Second only to the martini in terms of strength, and its peer in terms of both age and coolness, the Old Fashioned is now very much a drinker's drink, and something you should only ever order in a bar when you're sure the person serving you has both the time and the inclination to make it something other than a whiskey spritzer. Le secrets? Good whiskey is crucial, whether it's bourbon or rye (some bars use sipping tequila to great effect, and rum works, too), but the most common mistakes are not stirring enough (the dilution and thorough combining of the ingredients are essential), using sugar and not dissolving it thoroughly before adding the spirit (sugar syrup solves this problem neatly) and the addition of soda water, which changes its character entirely, and not for the better. It's not for the faint of heart, but once acquired, it's a taste you'll relish. You can now buy a range of bitters beyond Angostura, too: keep an eye out for Peychaud's, Fee Brothers and the like and experiment.
- 2 tsp sugar syrup
- ½ tsp Angostura bitters
- 60 ml bourbon or rye whiskey (¼ cup)
- 2 orange wedges
- To garnish: Maraschino cherry (optional, see note)
- 1Add sugar syrup, bitters and 2 ice cubes to a large tumbler (the Old Fashioned glass takes its name, in fact, from the cocktail) and stir to combine.
- 2Add half the whiskey, an orange wedge and 2 more ice cubes and stir for 30 seconds to a minute.
- 3Add another 2 ice cubes and the remaining whiskey and stir for another minute, adding more ice if necessary.
- 4Add another piece of orange wedge, and, if you're feeling jaunty, a maraschino cherry, and serve.
Maraschino cherries are available from select supermarkets and delicatessens.