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Editor's note: Robert O. Simonson is the author of "The Old Fashioned" and he writes about cocktails, spirits and bar culture for The New York Times as well as GQ, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Imbibe, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, and Time Out New York.
The thing to keep in mind about the Old-Fashioned - and the reason this drink keeps people fascinated, satisfied and frequently argumentative - is that it’s not just a great cocktail but that it’s also the cocktail. That is, it follows to the letter the blueprint for a category of drink - spirit, bitters, water, sugar - that was established more than two centuries ago.
That recipe structure, while as sturdy as steel, also happens to be endlessly welcoming of interpretation, embracing spirits well beyond the de rigueur whiskey. In fact, for a short period of time in the late-19th-century and early 20th century, a number of old cocktail books treated the Old-Fashioned not as a single drink, but as a branch of cocktails. (Gin Old-Fashioned, Brandy Old-Fashioned, etc.)
Today’s mixologists approach the drink with much the same mix of reverence and imagination, perfecting their ultimate expression of the classic drink with one hand, while messing around with the model with the other. The profit of this twin-minded attitude is that many of today’s cocktail menus include a classic Old-Fashioned for the purists and, for the curious, an in-house version that switches out the base spirit, the sweetener, the bitters and sometimes all three.
So, it you ever find yourself growing tired of the same old Bourbon or Rye Old-Fashioned (why this would happen, we can’t fathom), there are options. Try giving one of these differently spiritous iterations a spin.
5 Old-Fashioned variations for every spirit: Robert O. Simonson
Editor's note: Duane Sylvestre is the head bartender at Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C. and an active member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild and the Masters Guild of Sommeliers. Follow him on Twitter @dcelixirmixer.
My family is from Trinidad where drinking rum is common all year round. While rum cocktails are generally associated with warm weather from tiki drinks to one of summer’s classic cocktails, the daiquiri, I’m of the belief that rum can and should be drunk all year.
One of the ways I enjoy drinking rum in the winter is by replicating the flavors of a classic daiquiri but with slight modifications edging it closer to a toddy (a category of drinks that pre-date the "cocktail") territory.
A regular daiquiri consists of three ingredients, rum, lime juice and sugar. In this spiced, steamed version, I take those flavors but use them in a way that’s more appropriate for winter.
This is the seventeenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Pictured above: supermarket shelves plundered in anticipation of a blizzard in January, 2011.
Weather outside? Frightful. Inside? As delightful as you care to craft it.
Just in case you've been huddled up in an igloo or a Tauntaun with no mobile or cable reception, massive snowfall has thwacked a big chunk of the country. Millions of people are either digging out or frozen in place, and it's it's gonna stay chilly over the next few days.
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Lindsey Kate Reynolds, is a native Texan beginning her M.A. in Southern Studies. She blogs about cocktails at TheGoodetimeGals.com and Tweets @LindseyKateR.
Nog, flip, fizz, grog, shrub, smash.
Besides being vaguely onomatopoeic terms, these are all old-school drinks that used to be quite common in bars more than one hundred years ago. Fallen out of fashion due to the vodka craze of the Cold War cocktail days, today’s spirits renaissance is bringing them back to life with a vengeance.
Though you might not always want to use a dozen eggs and shake drinks for a combined thirty minutes when entertaining, sometimes a special occasion calls for a more luxurious cocktail. Enter the flip.