A Classic Whisky Cocktail – Old Fashioned.
I love the fact that classic cocktails – the kind that my dad used to make without too much hassle – are making a comeback. One classic whisky cocktail, an Old Fashioned is one of the best ways I know to enjoy a single malt, and it’s also incredibly simple to put together. Much as I love the ‘fine dining’ cocktails you get in London’s top bars, just as I enjoy a well-prepared steak or a platter of oysters with traditional service, cocktails like the ‘Old Fashioned‘ are classics for a reason.
What better excuse to indulge in practising my skills at making an Old Fashioned than Burns Night on 25th January – except that, an ‘Old Fashioned’ isn’t actually a drink from Scotland at all, but one which some say originated in Louisville Kentucky at the Pendennis Club in honour of Col. James E. Pepper. Of course, that means rather than being traditionally made with whisky, it would have been made with Bourbon whiskey. Other theories include that the classic whisky cocktail was named after a famous racehorse of the time called ‘Fashion’ or that it was simply the result of customers asking for their whiskey to be served the ‘old fashioned’ way. Whatever the truth, it wasn’t until 1895 that recipes were published for Old Fashioned cocktails, in George Kappeler’s book ‘Modern American Drinks’. Given the collection included a number of ‘Old Fashioned’ cocktails, for Whiskey, Brandy and Gin, it seems likely that the origin of the ‘Old Fashioned’ we know today was, quite simply, that customers were asking for their drinks to be served in a traditional form.
George Kappeler’s Whiskey Old Fashioned is quite simple. You need a lump of sugar, a little water, two dashes of Angostura bitters, ice and lemon peel. And, about 60ml of whiskey. All you do is dissolve the sugar in the water, before adding the remaining ingredients and mixing with a small bar-spoon. He suggested serving with the spoon in the glass.
Meanwhile, the lovely people at Glen Moray have been sharing their own Old Fashioned recipes with me. Last year, at about this time I shared the Port Cask Finish Old Fashioned, which is made with Earl Grey Syrup. This year, I’m going back to the classic and sharing a classic whisky cocktail recipe for an Old Fashioned. It’s one of those recipes which is so simple there are only a few things you can do to make it different but I do think it’s important to remember a few details.
Firstly, you need to use the right glass – a short tumbler. I’ve made mine in one of my Father’s old crystal glasses because I think he’d approve of this particular cocktail.
Secondly, the garnish of orange and a cocktail cherry is important.
Finally, although this would traditionally have been made with bourbon, I believe it’s the quality of the spirit which matters. Glen Moray is a classic whisky, a Speyside single malt, which is the starting point for a range of single malt whiskies. All Scotch Whisky must be matured in oak casks for a minimum of three years but is often matured much longer. Finishing, by transferring the whisky to empty casks that previously held other wines or spirits adds a depth of flavour from the interaction of the spirit with the wood of the cask.
Glen Moray, which celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2017, is still distilled in pot stills, from water and malted barley, then carefully matured in American oak casks. The result, a typical Single Malt from Speyside, is soft and fruity. Glen Moray has a peated whisky which is made by drying the barley with peat smoke before distillation. I am yet to try it but which my own island heritage (my Father’s side of the family comes from Mull and Skye) means I am likely to have a taste for it. There’s a sherry cask finish and a port cask finished whisky. And then there are the aged whiskies. Twelve, fifteen and eighteen years aged – that means the youngest whisky used is the stated age.
For a classic Old Fashioned whisky cocktail, I’d recommend using the Glen Moray Elgin Classic.
A classic whisky cocktail - The Old Fashioned
- 50 ml Glen Moray Elgin Classic
- 1 Sugar Cube
- 2 pieces Orange peel
- 2 Cocktail Cherries
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 teaspoon Water
- Ice cubes
Take one piece of orange peel, squeeze it to express the zest and then rub the peel around the inside of a whisky tumbler.
Muddle the sugar cube, bitters and water in the tumbler until smooth
Add the cherries, with 3 ice cubes
Add half the whisky and stir well
Top the glass up with ice cubes and add the remaining whisky
Garnish with a twist of orange peel
A classic whisky cocktail - Old Fashioned
If you just can’t wait here’s where you can get your hands on a bottle right now. And do let me know in the comments below what your favourite whisky cocktail is.
RRP: £20 for 70cl. ABV: 40%