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Gillman
12-14-2005, 17:22
Here is a typical way I make a fine cocktail.

I start with a complex personal blend of bourbons, straight ryes and Canadian whisky. Usually this has some sweet element, it may come from maple syrup, Grenadine, or Rock 'n Rye or (usually) a combination.

I pour this on ice. Swish around. Taste. It seems a little lean on bourbon character tonight. I add good bourbon, some 1980's-era Old Taylor and 12 year old Old Charter, tonight.

Hmmm, the bourbon character is good now but it needs some citrus, for the Old-Fashioned effect. I add two slices of Mandarine orange. Now we're getting there. But, maybe the taste is a bit bland: I add two drops of Collins orange bitters. Now we've got it, the Collins is contrapuntal to the sweet in the glass, it's starting to rock.

I'm almost there but ... somehow it isn't sweet enough, or the balance ain't right. A good iced Old-Fashioned needs a constant undertone of sweetness.

I add a dash of Grenadine. Now I've got it! The perfect pre-prandial drink. Lightly sweet, but with complex straight whiskey character - satiating, but I don't need another.

The art of the cocktail: exemplified.

Gary

brian12069
05-12-2006, 18:09
WOW! I just made my first OLD FASHIONED tonight. I have ordered it out before but never made one myself. I found this post and added the dash of grenadine like you said and WOW! Thats good!

Geekboy
05-12-2006, 19:02
My favorite way to make an Old Fashioned is this:

At the bottom of the glass put one teaspoon or two cubes of sugar.

Add about three to four drops of Angostura Bitters.

One slice of orange (no rind) and one cherry. The fruit must now be mashed with a spoon. Don't mash to a paste but muddle fairly well.

One 1.5 ounce shot of your favorite bourbon or rye. Equal shot of pure drinking water. Stir thoroughly. Add ice.

Heaven on earth.

Gillman
05-12-2006, 19:13
Thanks for these comments. The more I get on with straight whiskey the more I like it either "vatted" (i.e., personally blended) or in a cocktail. Great subtelty can be achieved in either form. E.g. tonight with friends before dinner we sampled a complex blend of Hirsch 16, 1976 Vintage bourbon from KBD (Kulsveens), mixed JDs, OC 8, ND OG, Lot 40 and ORVW 12 year old rye (Old Time). The older whiskies predominated. All agreed the nose was superlative (deep and tobacco-like) but the taste, while it had good finish, lacked a bit in the middle and beginning. It was "tight". I knew the answer was to "display" (Scots blending term) all these good whiskies with one sweetish, medium-aged whiskey. I tried a dash of JD's Silver Select, good but didn't really add much. A friend suggested the wheat-recipe bourbon Rebel Yell. Good thinking. I added some but it made the vatting a bit more acidic and things just weren't working. Then I had a brainstorm: add more Rebel Yell, the displaying (akin to what 50%-60% good grain whiskies will do to a combinations of malts) can't kick in unless a base is created. I added more RY to my vatting to get them about 50/50. The result was magical: the whiskeys softened noticeably in texture and deepened in flavour and finish, and also the vat had the pillowy effect I always seek but still retained the flavours of what went in. The oldest whiskeys really came into their own in this vatting, odd as it may sound.

This is an all-straight whiskey blend but building a cocktail is essentially the same idea using different ingredients and of course going for a certain flavor (whether the Old-Fashioned, Sazerac, Manhattan, Sour, Bronx or Brooklyn, do-it-yourself or what have you).

Gary

Nebraska
05-12-2006, 19:16
Gillman you scare me, I know wherever you are, in the recesses of your basement, you've already figured out the formula for cold fusion and the rest of this is just a way to keep yourself amused.

I'm going to try this formula of Gillman's for an old fashioned, but if you see a great white arc of light in the sky and no further posts from me...chalk it up to weird science...and bewareeee of being GILLMANIZED.


Mark/Nebraska

scratchline
05-12-2006, 19:21
I've been doing a lot of reading about the Old-Fashioned lately, and the original recipe called for little more than sugar, a lemon twist, bitters and whiskey. It is an old and venerable cocktail that is much discussed and debated among eminent mixologists. Drinkboy has an excellent page about it here:

http://drinkboy.com/Essays/RenewingAnOldFashion.html

To my taste go very easy on the sugar. And I think adding a lemon twist to the muddling mix also hedges the risk of oversweetness. And, of course, the flavor profile of the bourbon itself has to be factored into the mix. I tend to prefer rye to bourbon, but last night I mixed a couple with WT 8 yr.

The more I look into it, the more I feel that the Old-Fashioned is not so much a "cocktail" as a mode of presentation. Notice that some recipes call for liquor of choice prepared in the old-fashioned style. Could be that it was an early attempt to make rough liquor more palateable with the addition of a few different flavorings.

-Mike

Gillman
05-12-2006, 19:24
I'm flattered that my ideas are of interest to some but again the ingredients are out there and I didn't make any of them. Mixology and vatting/blending when one thinks of it are a process akin to cooking, an interest (as a pastime) I had for many years.

Gary

Nebraska
05-12-2006, 19:46
Gillman,

The ingredients may all be out there, but the creativity and artistic ability to know what and where and when to do it all at the right time...are indeed a precious and valuable commodity. The courage to try at all...good, bad, ugly, recognized or disdained...is something that most are not willing to risk. Those that do try, right or wrong, are an invaluable source of information and knowledge.

Mark/Nebraska

Jeeez...I'm getting philisophical...it's time to read and not type..lol

NorCalBoozer
05-12-2006, 20:57
Gillman,

The ingredients may all be out there, but the creativity and artistic ability to know what and where and when to do it all at the right time...are indeed a precious and valuable commodity. The courage to try at all...good, bad, ugly, recognized or disdained...is something that most are not willing to risk. Those that do try, right or wrong, are an invaluable source of information and knowledge.

Mark/Nebraska

Jeeez...I'm getting philisophical...it's time to read and not type..lol

man I am such a terrible drink maker. I tried to make a sazerac but I knew I screwed up when I could actually see some ingredient (bitters?) floating on the top like an oil slick. The taste confimed my suspicions that something was a bit "off". My try at a Manhattan was hardly any better.

pepcycle
05-13-2006, 13:11
In response to Scratchline

The more I look into it, the more I feel that the Old-Fashioned is not so much a "cocktail" as a mode of presentation. Notice that some recipes call for liquor of choice prepared in the old-fashioned style. Could be that it was an early attempt to make rough liquor more palatable with the addition of a few different flavorings.


I think all cocktails are designed to accomplish two things:
1. Increase Palatability: visual, taste, texture and smell
2 Increase rate of absorption: Diluted spirits in acidic solutions are absorbed most rapidly

The more obnoxious the base spirit, the more varied the additions to overcome the character. Bad whiskey is surely a primary reason for the cocktail.

tachyonshuggy
05-14-2006, 12:38
Cross-posted from the Alton Brown thread, a link to an Old-Fashioned video tutorial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgaW8c8dC04&search=bourbon%20whiskey

gr8erdane
05-16-2006, 23:13
Why Ed, I believe you are correct. In the oft viewed Bootleggers, Rumrunners and Moonshiners show I believe it was Gary Regan who pointed out that a lot of the spirits consumed during prohibition were likened to enbalming fluid and in order to make them semi-palatable, fruit juices and other masking agents were concocted to make consumption a bit less traumatic.

Ambernecter
05-17-2006, 04:20
That drink on Youtube.com looks more like a car wreck than an Old Fashioned IMO.

Each to their own I guess but I believe the constant stirring over ice as you build the drink, is what makes the Old Fashioned sooooo good!

Gillman
05-17-2006, 06:05
The fashion for cocktails predates the Prohibition era by about 100 years. In that time (early 1800's), little booze was long-aged and so cocktails were used to soften and help make the liquor go down easier. However in time cocktails became an art unto themselves. In my view good liquor (within reason) makes cocktails better, and that is why they are still popular.

Gary

Gillman
05-17-2006, 10:53
Check out www.theartofdrink.com. This interesting site (good report on Danfield's Private Reserve from February) incorporates a reprint of the famous 1862 text on cocktails by Jerry Thomas, "How To Mix Drinks". Unfortunately whiskey is not discussed beyond (sometimes) whether it is "Bourbon" or "Rye whiskey" or "Monongahela", so clearly these types were in standard commerce as early as the Civil War years. Usually the cocktails and punches just call for "whiskey" but sometimes one of the types mentioned is specified, or Irish or Scotch whisky. Of Scotch, for one recipe he advises to use "Glenlivet or Islay". Not much has changed, I almost expected him to refer to bourbon (cask) malt whisky.

Many of the drinks have hardly changed, e.g. the Manhattan is pretty much what we make today except rye fans will be pleased to note he calls for rye whiskey in a Manhattan.

He offers many notes and tips but none on what age or brand of "whiskey" to use. He never talks (that I read) about the age or colour of whiskey. He states in notes on ice that "whiskey" should be "kept on ice", while cognac should be kept at a "moderate" temperature so it does not lose its "'velvet'". From this I infer that most bourbon and rye was quite young, either white spirits or light yellow since, say, 6 year old bourbon might be viewed as analagous to old cognac. It is possible though people drank brown bourbon iced, just as some people today keep it in the freezer (when I first heard that I thought it was some obscure regional or family habit; now I see it has an old pedigree as do a lot of practices that seem unusual at first blush).

Many of the punches combine many kinds of liquors (as punches famously do) but so do many of the cocktail recipes. E.g. Mississippi punch combines rum, bourbon and brandy with sugar and is served on ice and decorated with fruits of the season. Sounds good Jerry. The Bronx cocktail served by Lenell at the recent Gazebo (this was in their room, to those who passed by) would be familiar to Thomas, while I didn't see the drink under that name he offers many drinks which are very similar and employ Maraschino as that Bronx did. One could experiment and reproduce many recipes found in Thomas' book, it is a fascinating artifact. And it proves that cocktails have always entailed complex mixtures. In his introduction he states that fashion drives the creation of new cocktails. "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose".

Gary

Gillman
05-17-2006, 11:58
Just to bring things Thomassian up to date (not necessarily that hard to do despite the age of the book), look at Thomas' recipe for a Brandy Sangaree. (He offers many variations on the Sangaree, some with port, ale, sherry etc.). He says, fill a glass 1/3rd with shaved ice and pour in brandy and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. (Today most brands of cognac and brandy are lightly sweetened and therefore the sugar can probably be omitted). Shake it up and pour into a wine glass and, he adds, float a dash of port on it. For most of his cocktails, he offers variations made to the same formula but using another spirit. In this particular case he does not mention a bourbon or whiskey sangaree but it is evident from reading the book as a whole that this would be a natural application of his method. And so I propose a Thomassian 1862 variant on the sangaree by making it with bourbon (I propose Early Times whiskey as sold in the U.S.). Wasn't there an expensive bourbon sold some years ago that had a port addition or was aged in a port cask? The WT Sherry Signature is the same idea.

As I've often said, there is nothing new under the sun. Tonight I'll build a bourbon sangaree in honor of Jerry. Hey Tim you might do the same and use that amazing 1933 Madeira. It was made closer to the date of Thomas' book than has elapsed since then!

Gary

Gillman
05-17-2006, 12:33
Correction to my first post on Thomas' book: he does mention occasionally brand names. E.g. when advising the use of Irish whiskey in one recipe he suggests the use of "Jamieson's" and mentions another name, unfamiliar to me, but everyone knows Jameson's!. In another part of the book when advising the use of Scotch whisky, he says, use "Glenlivet" or "May" whisky. I must confess in some 30 years of reading about whiskey and other spirits I was stumped by the reference to May whisky. Any ideas..?

Gary

barturtle
05-17-2006, 22:51
I'm gonna say that "Glenlivet" in this sense is not a brand name but more a reference to an area...several whiskies are made in the area that is known as Glenlivet, but only one is The Glenlivet. I'm guessing along that line of thought that May would also be a region, maybe one long lost to the annals of history or just called that by locals. I would hazard a guess that it would be a lowland, as so little whisky is made there currently that any subregions are no longer recognized.

Just my guess

Gillman
06-02-2006, 05:44
In a recent discussion I had with a well-known specialist on cocktails and their history it was pointed out to me that Jerry Thomas' book on mixing drinks came out in two editions. The extracts from the book at www.theartofdrinks.com seem clearly to be from the second edition, released in the 1880's, not the first edition, released in 1862. Therefore, some of the recipes (e.g. Manhattan) mentioned in the extract gain additional interest in that they are not in the first edition (which suggests these and other drinks in that category may have been devised in the interim). I mention this because in the area of cocktails, many are as interested in their history and origins as in the drinks themselves, or more so. Certainly however if I get the chance to offer a cocktail again at a Gazebo, I would consider amongst other options one of the whiskey punches or other interesting mixtures in the book. Ed's idea to use tea as a base for a bourbon drink is a good one too and maybe that can happen first.

Gary