Thirsty Thurdays is a new weekly feature from our favorite wannabe bartender, Matty Mills, taking you behind the bar for classic cocktail recipes, drink reviews and more!
Whether you’ve binge watched Mad Men and want to be Don Draper or maybe you’re ready to graduate from the Jack-and-Coke days, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Old Fashioneds. And if not, welcome. Prepare to fall in love.
An Old Fashioned is a basic whiskey cocktail dressed up with orange slices (or zest) and a cherry over ice (on the rocks). Originating in the early 1800’s New York scene, the Old Fashioned is one of America’s most popular and historic drinks. It’s also one of the most simple, but folks whether making them at home, working behind the bar or simply ordering them tend to overthink it and overdo it. We’re keeping it simple.
Step 1: Glass matters
You can’t—or shouldn’t—be making Old Fashioneds in a pint glass. And keep it away from plastic. This is a cocktail glass drink through and through. You might think that solid crystalware is expensive, but you can pick up a nice set on Amazon for a bargain. I snagged these for $30 and got four very well weighted glasses that will impress your guests.
Step 2: Bourbon matters
This isn’t about bourbon snobbery—those people suck—but instead about picking what you like and ignoring what anyone else tells you to do. If you like Woodford Reserve (my favorite economy brand), use it. If you like Maker’s Mark, use it. If you want to pour Pappy Van Winkle in here I don’t care; use it. But bourbon matters. It’s the overwhelming flavor of this drink. Use what you like.
Step 3: Ingredients don’t matter
Some will tell you that a square or ball ice cube matter. They don’t. Others will tell you the right kind of cherries matter. I haven’t found that they do. Great Value cocktail cherries work as well as a $40 jar of organic ones.
But, you do need cherries, an ice cube (larger than the ones your fridge shoots out the door. Spend $15 and get a small silicon ice tray), orange peels or zest and bitters.
Step 4: Muddle and Mix
* In a shaker or mixing glass, muddle the orange slice or zest.
* Add 2 oz. bourbon, 0.5 oz simple syrup, three dashes bitter into mixing glass.
* Add regular ice to the shaker and large cube to serving glass.
* Stir mixing glass or shake shaker for 30 seconds.
* Strain contents from shaker/mixing glass into serving glass.
* Garnish with small orange peel and cherry.
Step 5: Enjoy and Experiment
Don’t get set in your ways. Eventually you might want to try orange bitters or cinnamon cherries. You may want to char oak and set your glass over it first for a smokey flavor. The great thing about Old Fashioneds is they can be customized to match your mood, moment and tastes.