There’s a bit of a mystique to the Old Fashioned. It’s kind of an old man’s drink, and in my mind’s eye the person at the bar asking for an Old Fashioned is a bit greyed, tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows, maybe with a flat, newsboy cap on his head. And he takes it to the small table by the window and sips it while reading the Daily Racing Form. As for you, bartender…you must use a sugar cube. You may only add three drops–THREE DROPS, I SAY!!!–of bitters to the sugar cube, and not a single droplet more. Though you might also use simple syrup. Muddle fruit in a shaker and shake with whiskey, then pour into the glass. Or don’t dare use a shaker. Or don’t use fruit except as a garnish. Or… Or… Or…
The thing is, we all just want a drink that tastes good, right? And like every recipe in the world, even the classic Old Fashioned can be updated. Room can be made at the table, next to the man in the newsy cap, for an Old Fashioned that’s a little less surrounded by myth and a little more playful, one that’s great for sipping on the back porch on a gorgeous summer night.
Hence, the Rosewater Old Fashioned. For this drink, use a whiskey that you don’t mind mixing things with (save the fancy reserves for sipping neat); I used a decent blended whiskey with a nice, sweet top note and a mellow flavor. Here’s what you need:
- 2 orange slices and 2 maraschino cherries, divided
- 1/2 oz simple syrup (recipe at the end)
- 1/8 teaspoon rose water
- 3 oz whiskey
- 3 drops Angostura bitters (or more, according to taste)
- Rocks glass
Take one orange slice and one maraschino cherry and muddle them into the bottom of your rocks glass. Fill the rocks glass with ice.
Put simple syrup and rosewater in a shaker filled with ice. Add whiskey, and shake. Pour the drink into your rocks glass. Top with Angostura bitters. Add the remaining orange slice and cherry as garnishes. Give a stir, and enjoy.
A word about rosewater: GO EASY. A little goes a long way. I originally mixed this drink with, no lie, just three drops of it, and feel free to start there and see how your palate reacts. Add more if you want, but since we don’t normally embrace floral flavors in the US it could be a whole new taste sensation for some of us. I didn’t feel that the rosewater came through with such a small amount so I upped it just a tiny bit. And BA-BAM! It was suddenly complex and lovely. The rosewater picked up the fruit flavors and carried them along beautifully. The whiskey had enough muscle to not get overwhelmed by the rose, while the syrup brought out its warm sweetness. And every so often I got a little zing from the bitters. It was a lovely, sippable companion to my evening bird-watching on the back porch, and a great way to start off the evening.
As for simple syrup, it’s really very simple. It is a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. 1/2 to 1/2. Seriously, that is all. Heat the syrup long enough for the sugar to melt into it, but just until it melts. It doesn’t have to boil, and you’re not trying to make any sort of caramel. Remove from heat, let it cool, and pour it into a container you can keep in the fridge. I have mine in a squirt bottle. It should last about a month. And what’s the benefit of using simple syrup vs. a sugar cube, you may ask? Or just sugar?
It’s all in the easy mixing, friends. And that’s what I’m ending this on today. Mix easy, have fun, try new things, and enjoy.