2 oz. Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey
1/2 or so tsp Demerara simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
The Old Fashioned is the original cocktail. When the word “cocktail” was coined, it referred to a combination of a spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. In the way that Sour, Flip, Fizz, Daisy, Fix, Crusta, and so on are drink categories characterized by particular formulas, so, originally, was Cocktail.
Ordinarily, I encourage the shaking of drinks that feature syrups, but the Old Fashioned has been around longer than cocktail shakers, I say stir. It’s a rough drink, rough in the sense that Teddy Roosevelt was rough. It’s nearly all whiskey. Careful measurements and advanced mixological techniques don’t belong here.
Old Fashioneds historically were made with rye, then with bourbon for many years, and now with rye again. Rye is more complex nine times out of ten, which matters a lot when the flavor palate you’re working with comes 85% or so from the whiskey. I used Bully Boy’s American Straight Whiskey (distilled in Boston!), which is made from a mash halfway between a bourbon and a rye mash. The result is very interesting and very smooth - smoother even than a lot of bourbons, which are allegedly the sweeter American whiskey. Whatever you use to mix these, be sure it’s of decent quality, and you enjoy it. Your particular whiskey selection should be one you would sip on its own.
There is a newer school of Old Fashioneds that involves muddled fruit. These can be enjoyable, but yield a distinctly different drinking experience. I’ll cover them some other time. For now, our foray into Embury’s basic/classic cocktails is concluded. The Daiquiri and the Jack Rose will follow eventually.
Finally, a shout-out to Jon, whose Demerara simple syrup was the sugar I had on hand for this. Demerara has a rich flavor, and makes a syrup that’s almost black. It blends very well with aged liquors.