Hey Everybody, let's make a cocktail! Since our buddies from
Jack Daniel's are in town this week, let's use on of their fine
products. Lets do an Old-Fashioned. Let's use Old #7; the Honey is
sweet enough, Gentlemen is mellow enough and the Single Barrel
doesn't need any help.
So an Old-Fashioned: A spirit, bitters, sugar and a little
water. The end.
"But Tom," you say, "what about the mashed up orange and
fluorescent cherry?" I'll get back to that, for now I'll just
pretend I didn't hear you and lower the large muddler I have raised
above my head.
Let's start. Immediately put a pint glass in the freezer. Any
pint will work fine, but if you happen to have a "Yarai" Japanese
mixing glass, I'd give you a slight head nod and eye brow raise,
which says, "Well played, Sir", without saying a word.
Whatever your choice of mixing vessel the important thing is
that it is cold - real cold; ice cold. Might as well throw in your
drinking glass while you've got the freezer door open. Something
short and heavy bottomed works nice. Speaking of 'short and heavy
bottomed', "Happy Birthday, Mom!" Don't worry, she gets my sense of
humor, she raised me!
The other two tools you'll need are a mixing spoon and a
strainer. Just use a long iced tea spoon or a bar swizzle spoon if
you got it. I like the ones with spoon at one end and the trident
at the other, great for stabbing garnishes, and people who ask me
to pour some cherry juice in their drink. Use a Hawthorne strainer
(w/ the springy thing) or a Julep (no springy thing), or just use
your fingers. I'm not here to judge.
Let's get all our ingredients in a row:
Jack Daniels #7
Man, I do like the Single Barrel though, I like the bottle.
Something about opening up a bottle of bourbon by pulling out a
nice fat cork makes you feel like a man. And the bottle would be
great to use when you are sugaring in the spring!
Granulated works fine but get yourself some cubes, natural if you
can find them. You could always make some simple syrup (half sugar,
half water) if you are in a hurry. But what's the rush? You've made
it, you're here, in Vermont. Relax. Take a deep breath. No really,
as you are reading this take a deep breath, in through the nose for
a four count, hold it for four, then out through the mouth for
four. Nice, right? Nothing like the Vermont mountain air.
Vermont Pure, but Poland Springs is also great if you're not in
Vermont. Or if you have a nice deep well, use that. No chlorinated
tap water or seltzer. Seltzer lacks the minerals that give spring
water or well water that great taste. Club soda is good, too and
adds some sodium that can round out a drink. (Don't worry the
carbonation will be gone by the time we are done.)
Angostura. You remember these from your spring break trip to
Venezuela, where you and your buddies sat on the beach and chewed
on some gentian root. What? You don't remember? Nice. These are
probably the only bitters you'll find at the supermarket, small
bottle, big label, too big for the bottle, yellow
Take your mixing glass out of the freezer, drop one or two sugar
cubes inside. Move them to the right side of the glass if you're a
lefty like me, or the right side of the glass if you are a righty.
But if you are a righty you are probably still staring at that
bitters bottle perplexed at why the label doesn't fit correctly.
Look, if I lived in Venezuela I wouldn't let a little thing like
proper label size bother me either. Move on.
Now we'll bathe that sweet nugget in bitters. Hit it with two or
three dashes. A dash is not a drop, that's why it's a different
word, with different letters, so we can tell them apart. A dash
should be a nice steady stream from a gentle push to the glass with
the bottle. Not a drip; a stream. (Think Peter North, not Oliver
North). Add about 1/4 oz O2 or soda to it and grab your muddler or
the back of a spoon and smash up the cubes. Just stir it if you are
using granulated. Add a bit more liquid if the sugar is being
stubborn and doesn't want to dissolve. Now put your nose in that
glass and smell the essence of the Venezuelan Rainforest... mmmm.
Isn't this fun!
There you have it, we're done with the sweet and bitter part of
What? Oh, you're still wondering about the mashing of the orange
and cherry you've seen done so many times. Well that's when I would
pull that cocktail off the bar, look you square in the eye and say,
"Good day, Sir." And you respond, "But I was just wondering..."
"I said, good day!", I retort indignantly.
Look this isn't an episode of "Gilligan's Island" and I'm not
going to disrespect you by putting a fruit salad in your cocktail.
You're an adult with kids and a mortgage for God's sake.
(Actually it's good either way but I always like to throw in an
indignant rant, makes me sound like I care. In reality I believe
it's a free country and you should be able to drink what you
Back to our glass. Sans fruit, this time. Pick up the glass and
and swirl your creation around to coat the inside of the glass.
This will help get your flavors off the bottom and distributed
throughout. Give it a nice counter clockwise swirl and another
whiff - different right?
Now lets put in your spirit of choice, 3 oz. should do it.
Anymore and you risk it getting too warm if serving it straight up,
or too diluted if served on the rocks. I like to put my mixing
spoon in the glass first then pile in some fresh, clean, dry ice.
Really pile it on, mint julep style, then start to slowly stir
until that mound starts to melt into the glass, pick up speed and
keep the spoon against the glass. Try to do this with out making a
sound. This will prevent introducing air into the drink. No jabbing
and plunging. A little twist with the swizzle part of the spoon, if
you're good, is all you need.
How long? Well, we're trying to get this libation to a frosty 38
degrees while introducing 25 percent water for dilution. I
understand you're probably not a marine biologist, so stir it for
about 25 seconds or sing "happy birthday" to yourself twice, but
not out loud or you may have to pay royalties.
We'll now strain it straight up or onto fresh ice. Don't even
consider reusing the ice that's in your mixing glass or the ghost
of Harry Craddock will rise from the grave and slap that Hawthorne
strainer right out of your hand. That ice is not "seasoned", it's
melted and dead. Throw it into the sink after straining and move
on. Don't even look at it, it's over.
So we're staining, Hawthorne, julep or fingers. Remember it's a
free country and I'm not here to judge.
Wait till the very last second and pull your glass out of the
freezer. We need that baby as cold as possible especially if you
are serving this puppy straight up (recommended).
Time for the garnish.
Don't even thing about the orange slice with a cherry on top,
because that's where it starts and the next thing you know you're
ordering a Zombie Energy Drink with Cotton Candy flavored vodka and
dancing in soap bubbles to techno-house music. That actually sounds
like a fun night but if you skip the orange/cherry garnish you'll
avoid your buddies asking, "Is that a Roy Rogers or a Shirley
I think a single speared cherry looks appropriate (brandied, if
you got 'em). But if you use a nice fat swath of lemon peel it will
look like you make $100K more a year.
"Bam," there you have it. If you've got rocks, insert a couple
straws, give a gentle stir. If straight, up give a gentle sniff.
Close your eyes, review the steps you just made and try your
concoction. Nice, right? I can't emphasize enough the closing of
the eyes; it brings your taste buds alive.
Well, you're here in Vermont. You've made it. Relax, feel the
warmth. You deserve it. And remember, The Road probably doesn't
need one. Be safe and tipple, don't topple.