The Old Fashioned Cocktail is Back in Style

Photo Credit: liquour.com
Photo Credit: liquour.com

It seems like every day there’s a new bar popping up around the corner, slinging innovative craft cocktails, using house-conceived recipes of specialty ingredients and infused liqueurs. It is impossible to be bored when looking over a great cocktail list. And, I don’t know about you, but I love to try them all. However, as your perusing these menus, mixed amongst the new recipes, you’ll notice some tried and true favorites popping up on almost all of them as well.

One that’s impossible to miss is the Old Fashioned.

Looking back to the earliest days of the cocktail, the recipes were pretty simple. So long as you had a spirit, sugar, bitters, and water (or ice), you were good to go. Then, as bartenders began to get creative and cocktail options grew, it left some customers longing for the good old days. Rather than a Whiskey Fizz or Whiskey Sour, they wanted an “Old Fashioned” Whiskey cocktail – made the way it used to be.

Because of its humble (but delicious) recipe, Old Fashioneds are not only great to grab from your local bar, but it also makes them perfect for your at-home happy hour. Even if you’ve never made a cocktail yourself, you’ve got this one in the bag.

For a perfect Rye Whiskey Old Fashioned

*(You can also substitute Bourbon or Scotch)
• 2 oz Rye Whiskey
• Orange Wedge (I trim off the peel and pith)
• 1 Cherry (Splurge for the Luxardo Maraschino Cherries… trust me!)
• 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
• ½ oz Simple Syrup

Muddle the Orange, Simple Syrup, Cherry and Bitters in a rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add Whiskey and stir until chilled. Fini!

Now looking at the original definition, you’ll notice the first Old Fashioned cocktails would not have included fruit. Whether you choose to include the orange and cherry is up to you. If you want to forgo muddling, try rimming the glass with orange peel to release the essential oils.

Once you’ve perfected the Whiskey Old Fashioned, feel free to experiment. Just remember the original definition: spirit, sugar, bitters, ice. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some ideas using a few of my favorite Texas Spirits.

Waterloo Antique Gin Old Fashioned:

  • 2 oz Waterloo Antique Gin (From Treaty Oak Distillery)
  • Lemon Wedge
  • ½ oz Simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura or Fee Brother’s Orange Bitters

Z Pepe “Anejo” Fasioned:

  • 2 oz Z Pepe Anejo Tequila
  • Lime Wedge
  • Grapefruit Wedge (optional)
  • ½ oz Agave Nectar2-3 dashes
  • 2-3 dashes Fee Brother’s Grapefruit Bitters

One Dish: Three Wines

One of my favorite ways to experience a wine is with a delicious meal. A perfectly paired dish can truly enhance your wines aromas and flavors (and vice versa). However, I know it can sometimes feel really overwhelming when you feel you need to find that “perfect” wine while trying to remember all of the “rules.”

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Jacques Pepin: Mustard Roast Chicken foodandwine.com

Well, here’s the great part. There are no rules! I know we’ve all heard “Reds with Steaks” and “Whites with Fish and Chicken”, and honestly those can be a great jumping off point. But, in my opinion, the important thing is that you’re drinking a wine you enjoy, and that you think is delicious with your meal. Then, just have fun with it!

– If you’re interested in learning specifics about why certain wines tend to pair better with certain dishes, you can definitely learn some tips and techniques. In fact, I may just have to do a follow up to talk some more about it. But, today I want to focus more on the “fun” of trying many different wines with the same dish – just to                                                                                       see what happens.

Here is one of my most recent adventures:

The Dish:
The great French-American Jacques Pepin has been sharing his fantastic recipes with us for decades. Perhaps you remember him on his television program “Jacques and Julia” with Julia Child? I’ve recently enjoyed making some of his recipes myself, and this one is probably my favorite. It’s his Roast Split Chicken with a Mustard Crust. Here is a link to the exact recipe http://www.kqed.org/w/morefastfoodmyway/pdf/204-recipe.pdf. I know for many people, a roast chicken may not sound particularly exciting, but trust me on this one. It’s fantastic!

The Wines:

• The first wine I paired with our Roast Chicken was Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. The bright, citrusy lemon helped take a warm, hearty dish and make it perfect for summer. I also served the chicken with fresh summer veggies which helped to bring everything together.

• For the second wine, I went with Jacques’ suggestions – a chilled Beaujolais, also from France. Beaujolais’s tend to be relatively dry, but fruity and easy-drinking. And yes, you read that right. I paired a red wine with chicken. Yes, I drank that red slightly chilled. Take that rules! And you know what, it was fantastic.

• Finally, for my third wine, I wanted to be more adventurous and went with a 2012 Ch Ragotiere Muscadet (not to be confused with Moscato), from the Loire region in France. Thsecuredownloade bright fruit and lingering minerality of this white wine, kept the dish light and summery. Also, the particular way that this wine is made gives it a more rich, smooth texture that made this wine my favorite pairing of the three. This was an instance where the wine and the dish were so evenly matched that they both brought out the best in the other. I just wanted to keep going back from bite to sip to bite.

So, this was just one example of ways to have fun and try something new with dinner. And remember, when you’re planning your next meal, and you want to find that perfect wine, remain calm! Have fun with it. Try something new. (And it’s always OK to ask for a little friendly advice from your helpful neighborhood wine store associate.)

Life Is 4 Tasting: Differently