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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Building An Old-Fashioned

    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

  2. #2
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    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!

  3. #3
    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.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    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
    Last edited by Gillman; 05-12-2006 at 18:29.

  5. #5
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    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
    "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

    -True Grit by Charles Portis

  6. #6
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    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

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    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

  8. #8
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    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

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nebraska
    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.
    "That rug really tied the room together" -- Jeffery Lebowski

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    Presentation vs Comination

    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.
    Colonel Ed
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006

    Comissioned by Paul Patton, 1999

    "It ain't the booze that brings me in here, it's the solace it distills"

 

 

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