Welcome to the newest feature here at Hudson Sutler, we’re calling it “Thirsty Thursday”... because we'll be posting on Thursdays, and it'll be about drinks. For this month’s post we reached out to our good friend Jamie Clayton, former bar-keep, incredible photographer, decent drinker, and our go-to for all things Nashville.
Now before your roll your eyes because you think you know what an Old-Fashioned is, let me politely correct you, you don’t. Or at least we didn’t…Ok, that’s enough from us. Let’s let Jamie take it from here.
What’s in an Old-Fashioned?
If your first answer is, “Uh whiskey and..” I’ll stop you right there and say, “Okay so you know what a Whiskey Old-Fashioned is”.
You see, an Old-Fashioned is more of a recipe than a cocktail. Did I just lose you?
Before the drink became the whiskey-based drink you order to impress your boss on work trips, it was a simple 4-part recipe of (1) a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, (2) sugar, (3) water and (4) bitters.
Thats right. Spirits of any kind. Rum. Gin. Tequila. Nowhere does it say in that recipe to add a cherry, orange slice, or god forbid, club soda.
Today, I’m going to show you three different approaches to the Old Fashioned. Hold on to your hats.
The Old School
The cocktail that you love (the Whiskey Old-Fashioned) was said to have been created at the Pendennis Club in Louisville in honor of a popular bourbon distiller, James E. Pepper. The drink became popularized when it was introduced to the hotel bar at the Waldorf-Astoria, in New York City...
I actually have in my hands the official reprint of The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, where the recipe is located on page 63 under the title:
One-quarter lump Sugar
Two spoons Water
One dash Angostura
One jigger Whiskey
One piece Lemon Peel
One lump Ice
Serve with small spoon
This is one of the first printed versions of the “recipe” but it can be even more simple.
Old is New
Today, the Old-Fashioned has regained it’s 4-part simplicity thanks in part to bartenders like Jeff Morgenthaler.
You might know Jeff from his extremely badass book (which if it’s not too late, would make a great Father’s Day gift) called simply The Bar Book. He currently is the bar manager at Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko in Portland, Oregon. Two sick bars. Jeff Morgenthaler is a man’s bartender. He is the type of guy is who you see and swear you think you're cool enough to be friends with him but... lets be honest.
In this month’s Thirsty Thursday, I’ve decided to use his recipe for the “House Old-Fashioned” so everyone can know how a perfect Old-Fashioned is made.
1 tsp/5 ml 2:1 simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz bourbon whiskey (I used Evan Williams Single Barrel)
Large ice cubes
1 orange peel for garnish
“Combine the simple syrup, bitters, and bourbon in a mixing glass and stir with ice cubes. Strain over fresh ice into an old-fashioned glass. Twist the peel over the surface of the cocktail, rub the rim of the glass with peel, and drop in the drink to serve.”
There you have it. An amazing Old-Fashioned. (Also, side note. Evan Williams is usually noted for having shitty whiskey but damn their Single Barrel is surprisingly very smooth.)
Old Dog, New Tricks
Wait. I’m not done. You’re not? Nope.
You see there are so many ways to make an Old-Fashioned. Sure, you love Whiskey Old-Fashioneds... but have you had one with tequila and mezcal? I took this one also from Jeff’s book. Sorry, I’m not sorry. I have a huge bartending crush on the guy.
This drink is credited to Phil Ward. He created the drink in 2007 at the New York bar Death + Company (...also, so you don't come off as a complete idiot, it’s pronounced “Wah-ha-ka”).
1 1/2 oz reposado tequila (I used Espolón)
1/2 oz mezcal
1 tsp 2:1 agave syrup
2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters (a must have in any bar)
Large ice cubes
Wide swatch of grapefruit peel for garnish
"Combine the tequila, mezcal, simple syrup, and bitters in a mixing glass and stir with ice cubes. Strain over fresh ice into an old-fashioned glass. Twist the peel over the surface of the cocktail, rub the rim of the glass with the peel, and drop in the drink to serve."
See... and you said you knew what an Old-Fashioned was.
Hope you have a great Father’s Day. Here’s to many drunk conversations with Dad where he tells you a little more than you wanted to know about when he was your age.