DeGroff is in favour of muddling a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry into the drink, writing that "those other guys just want some sweetened whiskey, not an old fashioned". In the other camp, Doudoroff insists: "you do not mash up fruit of any kind in an old fashioned. To do so implies a perverted nastiness of mind. Now, I'm usually firmly in the DeGroff camp, but I'm surprised by how much I enjoy Moore and Doudoroff's cocktails — they have a certain austere elegance I can imagine going down well before dinner.
Yet, though they may be new-fangled additions, I can't help missing the bittersweet flavour of the orange and cherry, and the colour they bring. A good cocktail should be a treat for the eyes, as well as the palate, as you slowly sip your way down its length. Don't overdo it, though; the predominant flavour should still be that of the whiskey.
More contentious is the subject of dilution. Now, for those who insist on using lump or granulated sugar, a dash of water is essential — you'll never dissolve it in alcohol alone. But if you're using syrup, it is unnecessary, particularly if you're muddling orange in there too, which will provide its own dilution I firmly believe a splash of water brings out the flavour of most alcohols.
Worst of all, however, are the recipes, such as Schumann's, that top up the glass with soda or still water which may also be the only sin I can't forgive Don Draper , killing its potent, boozy charms stone dead.
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DeGroff lists water or soda as optional extras, cautioning the reader to "be careful not to drown the drink". The best way to avoid that danger, in my opinion, is not to start down that road in the first place; if you want a long drink, have one. Ice, however, which Doudoroff lists as optional because of its similarly, if slower, diluting qualities, is a must — as the temperature of the drink drops, its sweetness comes to the fore. If you have one of those giant ice-cube moulds to impede the melting process, so much the better. A slice of orange and an extra cherry will make the drink look pretty, but I don't think it needs lemon, pineapple or any of the other garnishes that became popular in the drink's Draper-era dark days.
This is a cocktail, as Victoria Moore observes, that should be drunk "with gravitas". For the sugar syrup makes lots of syrup, but keeps almost indefinitely : g brown sugar ml water. For each drink: Bitters of your choice 2 slices of orange 2 maraschino cherries 60ml bourbon Ice. Put the sugar and water in a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Decant into a jar or bottle and allow to cool. Put a splash of syrup in a small rocks glass and add a couple of dashes of bitters. Put in a slice of orange and a cherry, then muddle against the bottom of the glass until the fruit is thoroughly mushed. Remove the orange and any big bits of cherry skin. Pour in the bourbon and stir well.
Taste and add more syrup or bitters if you feel it lacking. Add ice in quantity, then garnish with the remaining fruit. Serve immediately and drink slowly. The old fashioned: are simple drinks always best? Is a maraschino cherry sacrilege? And what's your default choice at the bar?
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11 Best Old Fashioned Cocktails - Top Recipes for Old Fashioned Drinks
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