An Old Fashioned is a popular drink that is synonymous with whiskey. You can’t go wrong with a combination of sugar, water, bitters, whiskey and a splash of citrus. In fact, it’s such a classic whiskey cocktail that some would argue it’s overrated. But the simplicity of its ingredients is what makes it both an enduring recipe and one that’s ripe for experimentation. Why not try a creative alternative to one of America’s oldest cocktails? Here are six Old Fashioned variations to whip up now.
Use bourbon instead of rye whiskey
It’s a simple twist that results in remarkably distinct versions of the cocktail. Bourbon tends to bring out a sweeter, balanced flavor while rye whiskey has a drier, more spicy kick. Other simple swaps include granulated sugar and a muddler over simple syrup or trading your orange garnish for lemon. Any of these variations can take a normal Old Fashioned into new flavor territory.
Try a different kind of simple syrup
Add a new riff on a cocktail standby with different types of simple syrup. You can start with something as simple as substituting the syrup for another sweetener like honey or agave nectar. Or, if you have ample time, make an entirely new syrup from scratch. Either way the subtle shifts can take your cocktail up a notch.
Smoke the liquor first
Much like charring a good steak retains a massive amount of flavor, so does capturing the smoky aroma of wood chips and blending it with your favorite bourbon Old Fashioned. There are different ways you can smoke liquor, from smoke-rinsing the glass and the entire cocktail to using a smoking gun or making a batch of smoked alcohol with your grill and some wood chips. You can also experiment with different flavors like oak wood, pecan wood, certain herbs, vanilla beans or citrus peels. Smoke can add a ton of depth to an already great Old Fashioned cocktail.
Use a fat-washing method
Fat-washing is a clever cocktail technique that can add savory flavor to your favorite whiskey. You’ll blend your spirit with a liquid like melted butter at room temperature. Let it sit for a few hours and then chill everything in the fridge or freezer to let the fat harden so it can easily be skimmed off the top of your alcohol. The result is a spirit that has retained the flavor of the fat but doesn’t contain any of the fat itself. The first bartender to try this method was Don Lee at New York’s Please Don’t Tell (PDT). Lee decided to infuse two of America’s favorite flavors, bourbon and bacon, into a drinkable format. The end result? Benton’s Old-Fashioned, a bacon-infused cocktail that took off practically overnight.
Create a signature house Old Fashioned
When it comes to drinks and cocktails, the term “house” defines how a bartender (or at home mixologist) makes a recipe with the spirits they keep. Try this with an Old Fashioned to make a unique blend you can’t find anywhere else. Create your signature Old Fashioned as a staple so your friends and family know what makes yours unique from any other recipes.
Craft an “infused” Old Fashioned
Spruce up your favorite Old Fashioned with a whiskey infusion. Here’s the thing: you can infuse just about any ingredient into whiskey. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are the most common ingredients to infuse with whiskey. High-sugar fruits such as nectarines, lemons, plums and peaches, work well with the rich vanilla flavor of bourbon. Any fruit-infused bourbon makes for an excellent Old Fashioned.
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