Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Classic Cocktail: The Old-Fashioned


It seems that folks are actually reading the blog. This is dandy. Thank you to all of you who have already sent along your best wishes and comments!

While it's wonderful that Burning Pasta is gaining readers, unfortunately, some complaints about the site have been registered as well. It seems that more than a few readers were squicked out by our last recipe, in which we took squid, au natural, and rendered it into delicious pasta sauce, together with tomatoes and all sorts of veggies.

The bad news, for those readers? It's about to get a whole lot worse. We have a recipe report in the wings, and...yeah. It's a doozy.

The good news, for those readers? Today's recipe has nothing to do with any of that.

Today's recipe is all about feeling good, a cocktail that's perfect for March weather, but, honestly, is excellent year round. It's what your grandparents drank. It's delicious. It's manly (bourbon), but it's also mildly, florally sweet (sugar and fruit). Unfortunately, it's a drink almost invisible in today's bar scene.

It's the Old-Fashioned. I'm not going to get into the history, although it's interesting enough. There's some good info on that here. I'm just going to show you how to make it, hope you try it, and have you enjoy your visit here today.


One orange (I like Tangelo oranges, or "honeybells," myself).
One (ah, whatever, as many as you like) Maraschino Cherry, stem on.
Two parts Bourbon or Rye Whiskey (you can use Canadian whiskey in a pinch)
One sugar cube (or one teaspoon suga -- but remember, cubes are so much cooler!)
Two dashes Angostura Bitters (every bar should have bitters -- they're incredibly useful).

So. First, get your orange:

Next, get one sugar cube, place it in the bottom of the glass, shake the dashes of bitters onto it, and add a teaspoon of warm (tap) water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once this is done, cut a wedge of orange, and "muddle" it in the glass. That is to say, in fancy-lad speak, smush it into the bottom of the glass. The idea is to crush the pulp, press the oil out of the rind, and mix it all up with the sugar syrup.

Add your bourbon, and then three, or four, or five or so ice cubes. Stir. (Don't shake this cocktail, you heathen!) The ice will begin to melt, diluting the drink a bit. Make sure to mix the booze and the sugar together well. If it's too strong for your palate, add a little more cool water -- but don't make it too weak. This is a cocktail, a dignified one, and deserves to be treated as such. Some recipe books will tell you to add seltzer or club soda. This is boorish. Please, don't do this. It strips this drink of the silky, warm, mellow vibe that you've spent so much time trying to create.

Once this is done, add another (unmolested) slice of orange on the top, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry. If you're like me, and you need to protect your drink from those who would steal your cherries, feel free to add extras.

The final product:

And that's it. Drink, mix, and repeat. Be sure to use your discretion, however! Unlike the Rosemary Salty Dog, more than one or two of these will throw you for a serious loop. It is, after all, 95% bourbon.

So there. Give it a try. I especially urge those of you who aren't whiskey drinkers to give this a try. Drinks such as the Old-Fashioned, or the Rusty Nail have introduced many a wary drinker to the wonderful nuances of whiskey appreciation. Maybe you're next.

Oh, and, by the way, the next post is going to make the squid look like child's play. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Music: Queen -- "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy":


  1. I found your blog tonight by way of Taylor's Philly Food Writer invite (I'm fearless in the kitchen, but I write mainly about gadgets, gear and games - links at I LOVED your eel story, was terrified by the early pictures (ditto for the squid story) and finally settled my nerves by testing your Old Fashioned Recipe. Sipping as I say, you DO a great job with the presentation of those nightmare eels and squid, and you've got a new fan in me. :-) Joe

  2. Thanks, Joe!

    I update about once a week. I'll be sure to check out your site! We have lots of exciting things on the horizon -- some good posts are coming in the near future!

    - Neal

  3. Wow, you really are fearless in your choice of foods. Love, the veggies and drinks, haven't yet faced the living sea animals and organ meats.
    Congratulations on a great food blog.


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