The Mister is a bourbon drinker; has been for as long as I have known him. In terms of flavor, he likes that its sweeter, smokier and bolder than, say, scotch, another high quality whiskey. Philosophically, he likes that bourbon is American-made, both in product and in process. Not being imported helps keep the price reasonable, but more than that, he finds it endearing that bourbon isn’t presented as refined or pretentious.
One of our first trips together was a long weekend to visit the Kentucky bourbon trail. I’ll revisit that trip a little more tomorrow; today l’d like to share a local take on the bourbon Old Fashioned. We first had this drink at our favorite bar, Room 11. The Mister wasn’t exactly sure how they made it, but this is his best approximation:
Burnt Sugar Old Fashioned inspired by the amazing bartenders at Room 11.
Use a cocktail pick to skewer the citrus wedge and three maraschino cherries, then set in a glass tumbler. To the tumbler, add 3-4 ice cubes, syrup, bitters and bourbon. Give it a stir with a spoon or with the fruit skewer. Take the citrus peel, twist, then add to tumbler. Enjoy.
A few tips:
The Mister often likes his bourbon with nothing but an ice cube, and there are usually a variety of bourbons on our liquor cart for sampling. For mixed drinks, he prefers Knob Creek. It’s bottled at a higher proof and not too expensive, so he doesn’t mind using it in a mixed drink and likes that it retains a good bourbon taste despite being diluted with the other cocktail ingredients. If you still want to spend a little less, he recommends Wild Turkey, or a rye whiskey like Bulleit’s Rye or Old Overholt.
A citrus twist makes a pretty garnish, but its important to actually give the peel a twist before you drop it in the glass. Twisting it helps release the natural oils in rind, which is important to the flavor of the drink, and the aroma on the nose. Room 11 actually lights the twist on fire. I’m not sure about the chemistry of doing that, but it was pretty cool.
For this drink we used Peychaud’s bitters, but think it would be fun to experiment with different kinds.
If you are making your own burnt sugar syrup, take extra care to stand back when you add the boiling water to the hot sugar. It will release a pretty intense puff of steam, and you won’t want your face anywhere near the pan. Maybe wear a shirt with long sleeves, too.
These maraschino cherries came from a jar, but in the summer we often make our own with real sour cherries and Luxardo maraschino liqueur. Next summer, I’ll try to do a write up on that process, but if you have access to cherries right now, they are worth it!