Friday, August 7, 2009

Old Fashioned Ode

When I first moved to San Francisco, Rob was one of my roommates for several years (by the way, if you ever have the chance to live with a home-brewing beer nerd I highly suggest you take it). Along with being the primary architect of my move out here, he took it upon himself to show me his favorite local spots. One of the first places he took me to was Spec's. Spec's is a mecca to the age of bohemians and beatniks, full
of old timers, and knick-knacks from by-gone days. I loved the place immediately, but that's not what Rob had brought me there for. Here, he assured me, was where I needed to go to get an Old Fashioned. This was not a terribly popular beverage during my college days, so while I was familiar with the drink, it was one I had not yet had. Fortunately for me, I like booze and I trusted my native guide, so an Old Fashioned it was going to be.

With the 20/20 hindsight I have these days, I must say that in its construction there were many things I think are wrong with the typical Old Fashioned that are found these days. At the time, however, it was a minor revelation -- One that would be another piece in the puzzle of geekery that would come together many years later. Watching the drink being made, I kept thinking that something so bare bones couldn't be that much better than the Whiskey alone. I was quite happy to find myself completely in the wrong, and it wasn't the last time I'd head over to Spec's for an Old Fashioned.

When I started getting serious about cocktails, it's no surprise that the Old Fashioned was one of the first drinks I really dug into. This drink is about as simple as it gets, yet the whole is truly more than the some of its parts. As I experimented with the drink, I eventually settled on the recipe that, for me, is perfection.

(My) Old Fashioned

2 oz. Rittenhouse Rye BIB
1 cube white sugar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 tsp. water

In an Old Fashioned (surprise!) glass muddle the sugar cube with the water and bitters until the sugar is dissolved. Add the Rye, some ice, give it a stir, and garnish with a flamed orange peel.

There are a couple of things you'll notice missing that are frequently found when ordering this drink these days -- First is the muddled cherry, and orange. This is referred to by purists as "fruit salad", or "garbage", and I am inclined to agree. There are some who insist that a reasonably small slice of orange muddled into the drink is a tasty addition. I bear those folks no ill will, but I've always found it unnecessary. The giant hunks of muddled orange most often found? What the hell people? This not a drink that needs to be diluted with a cup of juice. Ranting not withstanding however, the slightest hint of orange is rather nice. Thank God for garnishes. The second, and far more important, is the slug of seltzer. This "addition" is unequivocally not ok. I would attempt to wax poetically about this, but I'm already getting riled up. This is not a drink that wants or needs to be lengthened.

So what's your Old Fashioned recipe of choice? I'd be especially interested in hearing from folks who disagree with my stance on the muddled orange and/or soda. Am I missing something?

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

1 comment:

Rob said...

All hail Specs Twelve Adler Museum Cafe.

All hail the Old Fashioned.

That is all.