Happy Frozen Friday (the new #ff?). The bone-chilling cold gripping the country right now inspires us to reach for warm comforts. The favorite wool blanket, some home-made chicken noodle soup, and sure enough, even an icy Old Fashioned has unique warming properties as well.
Just this past Tuesday, I attended H Harper Station’s School of Fine Bourbon in which the establishment’s owner, Jerry Slater, gives some bourbon history and lore, shares three off-the-beaten-path bourbons, and shows us every step of his house old fashioned, which we also get to drink. So in the spirit of recency, we’ll start with the H Harper Station House Old Fashioned.
H Harper House Old Fashioned
- 2 oz Old Forester bourbon
- rough cut sugar cube (I’ll use brown sugar or demarra sugar cubes)
- Angostura bitters
- lemon peel
- Slater likes to show guests this trick he learned on his journeys. To soak the sugar perfectly without leaving too much angostura in the glass, he places a cocktail napkin on top of the glass, the sugar cube on top of the napkin and dashes the bitters on top of the cube. As the bitters soaks through the cube, the extra bitters is soaked up by the napkin and he drops a perfectly-soaked sugar cube into the glass.
- He then measures out a half oz of water and pours it into the glass to aid the muddling process and muddles the cube to break it up. He’s not going for total analhation of the cube, just enough to break it up and dissolve some of the sugar.
- He then measures out 2 oz of bourbon, pours it in and adds three large clear ice cubes to the glass and stirs.
- He then cuts off a lemon peel, sprtizes the oils over the glass, rubs the rim down with the peel and drops it in.
And that is a great, classic Old Fashioned.
Slater explains that this is one of the oldest ways to make an Old Fashioned, since, you know, it’s really old.
The Mad Men Old Fashioned
In the 1950s, bar tenders added the muddled fruit salad, as I’ve heard it called. I like this version, as it reminds me of a cold snowy day that you might spend as a character in The Christmas Story or Mad Men. But beware, cocktail enthusiasts may turn their nose up at this style.
- 2 oz of bourbon (make it Old Crow or something from the 60s to get serious about it)
- Two orange slices (one for muddling, one for garnishing)
- Lemon peel
- Two or three maraschino cherries
- Sugar cube
- Angostura bitters
I like Beam because we used it one Christmas, but snobs and historians might prefer something else. In fact, nostalgia aside, I almost always prefer something else.
- In an old fashioned glass, douse the sugar cube with bitters (no party tricks in the ad man’s bar). Throw in the orange slice, peel and all, and the cherries and muddle to crush, but not pulverize.
- Pour in the bourbon and stir 30 seconds.
- Spritz the lemon peel over the glass and drop it in. Or skip the spritz, because, who has time for nuances? The meeting starts in ten minutes.
- Cut the remaining orange wedge to perch on the rim and drink up.
The Badger State Old Fashioned
It kills me to write about a bitter rival state’s recipe, but it’s significant enough to mention, as we don’t have a strong Minnesotan version to speak of. But we can also make fun of Wisconsin, since they use brandy instead of bourbon. So take that, Bucky…
This is essentially the same as the 1950s/1960s version, but
- 2 oz brandy
- 1 orange slice
- Soda water
- Maraschino cherries
- In an old fashioned glass, add a few dashes of bitters and a splash of soda. Add the orange slice and cherry.
- Muddle to crush the fruit, but not pulverize.
- Fill with ice cubes and pour in the brandy.
- Add soda to fill.
- Stir for 30 seconds.
- Garnish with more cherries.
Adapted from Marge’s Brandy Old Fashioned
Justin’s Winter Maple Old Fashioned
I love maple on everything in the fall and winter. So why not use it to give a nice winter flavor to an already wintery concoction.
- 2 oz good bourbon (I use Buffalo Trace, Woodford works real nice too)
- 1 oz real Maple Syrup
- Orange peel
- Dogan and Roth Christmas Bitters (if you’re Dogan or Roth, otherwise, Angostura will mix up real nice)
- Add maple, water, bitters and bourbon to the glass.
- Stir for about 30 seconds.
- Spritz orange peel over glass, rub rim and drop in.
- Drink up.
- Warm up.
Winter Spiced Old Fashioned
Researching Old Fashioneds, I came across this recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon using quintessential winter ingredients. It will take some time, and you’ll want guests around to share the spoils…or maybe you won’t. Scale the recipe up if you have more people around… or even if you don’t.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 12 ounces sweet bourbon (or whiskey)
- 1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
- 8 maraschino cherries
- optional garnish: 4 cinnamon sticks
- Place first five ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then cover and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the spices from the simple syrup.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely before placing in the fridge for an hour to chill.
- Divide an orange wedge and two cherries into each four glasses and muddle together.
- Place the chilled syrup, bourbon and ice into a large shaker and shake until well combined.
- Divide the mixture into each glass and top with an extra orange wedge, squeezing the wedge before dropping into the glass.
- Garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick, if using and serve.