Some of my most memorable cocktail experiences have been in New York. From Apotheke to Please Don’t Tell to Angel’s Share, NYC undoubtedly has a deserving reputation of being home to some of the best cocktail bars in the world.

So as a tribute, I’ll close out my New York series with none else than a recipe for the Old Fashioned cocktail.

A little history lesson: the “cocktail” was first defined in the early 19th century as a beverage consisting of spirits, water, bitters, and sugar. The basic formula came back into vogue in the 1860s, and these drinks were then dubbed “Old Fashioned.” Today, an Old Fashioned typically consists of whiskey or bourbon, bitters, simple syrup or sugar, and a little citrus. The Old Fashioned is the hubs’s drink of choice. It’s his benchmark beverage. It’s what he orders when he’s trying to sum up a place. It’s his go-to cocktail.

I’ve never been much of an Old Fashioned gal. That’s because the first few I’ve tried contained maraschino cherries, which I later learned from my MasterChef comrade-turned-bartender, Michael Chen, that cherries do not belong in a proper Old Fashioned.

The last time Michael visited, he taught me how to make his version of a proper Old Fashioned. With the recent revival of classic cocktails, it’s a good recipe to know by heart. The ingredients list is minimal, and you’ll always impress your guests with this easy but rewarding bartending skill.

I won’t say anything if maraschino cherries are your thing, but I much prefer an orange twist. After having a proper Old Fashioned, I thought, Hey, maybe I’m an Old Fashioned girl after all.

Happy mixing!

Recipe: Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail

Notes: It’s best to have a cocktail set complete with your mixing glass and muddler, but you can use a pint or cocktail shaker, wooden spoon, and chopstick when in a pinch.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • 3 dashes bitters (e.g. Angostura)
  • 2 (4”) orange peels, divided
  • 2 ozs bourbon (e.g. Buffalo Trace, W. L. Weller, Bullet)
  • a few ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Make cocktail: In a mixing glass, combine simple syrup, bitters, and 1 orange peel; extract orange oil using muddler. Add enough ice to fill 2/3 the glass and bourbon; stir with mixing spoon until chilled, approx 10 s. Strain into tumbler of ice.
  2. Garnish cocktail: Over glass, fold remaining orange peel in half lengthwise and squeeze to extract oil. Wipe rim with peel, twist, and garnish by dropping into drink.

Active time: 5m
Total time: 5m
Yields: 1 serving

Recipe: Simple Syrup

Notes: Store extra in an airtight container in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c Turbinado or granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c water

Instructions

  1. Make simple syrup: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt sugar with water until dissolved, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 5m more.
  2. Let cool and store in airtight container. Chill for up to 3 mos.

Active time: 5m
Total time: 5m
Yields: 1/2 c

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