Despite its name, there really isn’t much that is “old fashioned” about the Old Fashioned you will be served at most bars today. To paraphrase the eminently quotable Magoo, it’s more like a fruit salad than a drink. A rocks glass filled to the brim with bright red cocktail cherries, slices of orange, occasionally even chunks of pineapple, macerating in a bourbon marinade. Yuck.
Needless to say the real thing is a much simpler affair of whiskey, orange peel, sugar, bitters and ice; as with most simple things, such a timeless combination adapts well in translation. This is a drink I’ve been meaning to make for, oh, months, as Chuck sings its praises voluminously nearly every time we drink together. I didn’t get around to it because, as is my modus operandi, I had so many bottles to buy before I could even think about picking up some añejo. This amateur enthusiast business is expensive work.
Fortunately I have a kind and generous family who gifted me with a tidy little sum of birthday money, all of which went to buy some very, very nice bottles of booze, among them the earthy, robust goodness of 4 Copas organic añejo tequila. (Thanks mom! I promise to share!)
3 oz añejo tequila (4 Copas)
1 tsp agave nectar
2 dashes Fee’s orange bitters
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Combine ingredients in a double rocks glass with (big) ice, and stir for 30 seconds or so. Garnish with a long strip of grapefruit peel.
If you think about all of the things that you like about a traditional whiskey Old Fashioned, this has them all—it maintains the flavor of the original liquor while enhancing it subtly with aromas of citrus and spice from the bitters and just a little bit of sweetness. I can’t stress enough the aromatic importance of the grapefruit peel. It brings together the earthier qualities of the tequila and gives them a lovely floral hint. These are definitely potent little numbers, but is there anything so nice as sipping a drink slowly on a hot evening, enjoying how it evolves as the ice melts and watching the sky go dark?
I didn’t think so.