Cocktail Hour: The Brandy Old Fashioned
I love me a classic cocktail. I love me many classic cocktails in a row. And recently, I have taken a detour from my go-to Manhattan to sip on the Old Fashioned. Laugh all you want, but classic is classic for a reason. And I enjoy sipping it as much at home on my brown leather reading chair, as I do in a dark corner of bar, accessorized with a perfect red lip and vintage wave to my hair.
I turned to my go-to cocktail blog Jeffrey Morgenthaler for a damn good recipe. Of course he delivered. Below are his words, his recipe and my new favorite old vice.
“I start with an old fashioned glass I’ve chilled in the freezer. Call it a tumbler, call it a double rocks glass, or call it a bucket, it’s a glass you’re familiar with. To that I add two dashes of Angostura bitters and a teaspoon of sugar. If I’m in a hurry I use a 2:1 simple syrup, but if I’m going to spend some time, I use a sugar cube. The sugar cube is preferable here because it’s going to add some friction to the muddling we’re about to do. Brace yourselves, cocktail “nerds”.
Next I’ll take a thick-cut orange wedge, and a cherry. The usual suspect here is a grocery store maraschino cherry, but I always choose a brandied Amarena cherry. Remember, you’re going to get out what you put in, so a quality cherry is going to make the drink that much better.
I muddle the sugar, bitters, orange wedge and cherry into a thick paste, careful not to touch the orange peel too much as it’ll bring unwanted bitterness to the party – just work around the peel and pulverize that orange meat.
Your standard Brandy Old Fashioned brandy of choice is Korbel: cheap California brandy. Considering the hundreds of thousands of cases they ship to Wisconsin every year, it might be considered sacrosanct to use anything else. But if you want to do this right, really right, then do yourself a favor and use some good Cognac. I have my preferred brandy, you have yours.
At this point your typical Wisconsinite barkeep is going to add ice and finish the drink in one of two main ways: sweet or sour. Those who take it sweet will ask for a splash of Sprite or 7-Up, those who take it sour get a dose of Collins Mix or Squirt. To me, it’s just a way of watering down the drink, so I leave out the soda and take a more… cocktail-y method.
Crushed ice is a must for me whenever I whip up a Brandy Old Fashioned. I always skip the soda and let the tiny shards of ice do the work, taming those strong, sweet flavors and turning this into a drink you can sip slowly.
As for a garnish, most will throw a “flag” of an orange wedge and a cherry spiked through with a wooden toothpick, but my take here is that those things are already in the drink, so I skip ‘em. Besides, how pretty does that look without the goofy fruit salad perched over the top?
You know, it’s something to enjoy sipping on while you cook up some bratwurst and onions in a boiling kettle of beer before everyone comes over to watch the Packers game. Drink accordingly.
Brandy Old Fashioned
1 sugar cube or 1 tsp 2:1 simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 orange wedge
1 cherry, preferably Amarena or Maraska
2 oz brandy or Cognac
In a chilled old fashioned glass, muddle the sugar, bitters, orange wedge and cherry into a thick paste, careful not to work the orange peel. Add brandy or Cognac, stir, and fill glass with crushed ice and serve.” – JM
Text, Recipe and Images courtesy of Jeffrey Morgenthaler