Old Fashioned the perennial appeal of simple things.
Regardless of time and the natural process of evolution accomplish by any human invention people have always inclined to return to the basics, or to keep them alive out of nostalgia or because of an inherent value attached to it. We saw the return of bicycles as a standard way of urban transportation, the come back of records for the enjoyment of our favorite tunes and the establishment of fresh organic farm food as a great way of gastronomic pleasure. But one story of modest success has been going around, in bars all over the United States and the world for the last couple hundred years, unapologetic, versatile, unforgettable. The Old Fashioned could be perhaps the original form of what we all came to know as a cocktail. A balanced mix of flavors built around a choice of spirits.
Thousands of receipts, manuals, guides, books after, and who knows how many glasses served and drank, the initial statement date back to the early 1800's. Made more likely by a con artist healer than a bartender, the idea still true to its roots, and define the world of drinks and bars, to their most sophisticated ways of expression.
In the beginning, it was perhaps more about creating an elixir to cure all the ailings on a nascent cold, hard, industrial world, or to satisfy the need for excitement on a new growing bourgeois elite. But at the end on a society plagued by inequality, it just brings a way to equalize them all only as the crowd of the local dive bar, a power still proudly exercised by it's enlarged family around the world. Because you can call it the way you want, every cocktail served in a bar, restaurant, tiki or just made at home have its roots in this pioneer of the art of mixology. And that is why the name is self-revealing and of profound significance. A perfect statement of nature and character. The name that was given not by a mother, or an inventor or a marketing agency, but a name that rose from the ethereal interaction between people and their passion for good drinks.
In it's first printed mentions it was presented as a mix of a little sugar, water and bitters muddled on a glass, and then poured with your preference of spirits, or more likely with whatever you had on hand to achieve the right amount of tipsiness. Latter on ice, fruit, and a choice for bourbon become part of the receipt.
Here at New Yorker Patio Bar, we make it that way, which is considered the traditional form and is attached to the Classics section in our menu. Anyway, there is always space for creativity and innovation so feel free to ask our bartender to make it your way, a change of bourbon for gin? or maybe try a Caribbean twist and use rum and pineapple instead of orange peel? That may be just a little too far, for now, we are keeping it the old-fashioned way, after all, it has been with us like that for over a hundred years, and nobody has complained yet.
1 One teaspoon of sugar
2 Two dashes of Angostura bitters
3 A bit of water
4 Orange slice
3 Two ounces of Bourbon
Muddle the sugar, bitters, water and orange slice on an old-fashioned glass. Add a big cube of ice and the Bourbon, stir for around 30 seconds until it is chilled. Take out the orange slice, garnish with an orange peel and a couple of cherries. Voila!