A sweet twist on an Old-Fashioned
My friend Lisa has been telling me about her favorite cocktail, a Tangerine Old-fashioned, for years and we finally gave it a try. My daughter's friend Melissa is an Old-Fashioned aficionado so she volunteered to be bartender and show me the way. This is the recipe for the tangerine Old-Fashioned Melissa developed.
The history of the cocktail and the Old-Fashioned
Cocktails, and Old-Fashioneds have an interesting history. For starters, a cocktail used to be a breakfast drink. Seriously. Back in the day when the most common cause of death was waterborne pathogens such as cholera, dysentery, e-coli and typhoid, several daily servings of alcohol, beginning in the morning, was believed to be the best prevention. In a quest for health our ancestors drank a lot of booze. People must have been hardier back then!
The word "cocktail" is widely considered to be an American invention, but the earliest printed reference may have been in 1778 in The Morning Post, a London newspaper. The most quoted first citing of the word "cocktail" I could find was in 1806, in a New York newspaper called The Balance and Columbian Repository. At the time, a cocktail was a mixture of a water, a bit of sugar, lots of booze and some bitters. Overtime, cocktails became fancier, with additions of foreign liquors such as absinthe. Some stalwart souls insisted on the traditional "old fashioned cocktail" free of the new-fangled liquors. Thus, the name "Old-Fashioned" was born.
Variations of the Old-Fashioned
Because the Old-Fashioned has such a venerable history, there are very definite ideas as to what makes a true Old-Fashioned. For such a simple drink there are a lot of points of contention:
- Shaken vs. stirred
- Bourbon vs. Rye whisky
- Do you add bitters first or last?
- Do you muddle the citrus? Add a citrus twist? Or no citrus at all?
- Do you add a cherry? Or is the addition of a cherry appalling?
- Do you add club soda to help dissolve the sugar? Or use just plain old water?
For such a seemingly simple drink, there is a lot of controversy.
Fairchild tangerines come into season in the Fall and are done by January. Lucky for us, Ojai pixies are in season March through May, so we can keep the tangerine love going.
Tools and ingredients for the perfect Old-Fashioned
If you prefer to shake your Old-Fashioned, a cocktail shaker is in order. Many people find shaking an Old-Fashioned to be almost a cardinal sin, and instead stir their Old-Fashioned. Even if you stir your Old-Fashioned, you may choose to make it in a cocktail shaker, particularly if you muddle the citrus.
I like muddled citrus in my Old-Fashioned, and in particular, I like muddled tangerine. Muddling releases juice and the oils from the peel that flavor an Old-Fashioned. So if you want muddled fruit in your Old-Fashioned you will need a muddler. I prefer sturdy nylon tipped muddlers like this one by Arctic Chill.
The original Old-Fashioned probably did not include ice, as there simply wasn't much ice around in those days. If you are like most Americans, you do enjoy your cocktails chilled. While you want your Old-Fashioned chilled, you don't want a lot of dilution. So the answer is to use large chunks of solid ice. Tovolo sphere mold makes a 2 1/2 " ice sphere. If you want something a little smaller Arctic Chill's sphere molds makes a slightly smaller ice sphere and comes in a convenient 4-mold size. Both products work well.
These Italian maraschino cherries are made by the Luxardo family, who have been making these cherries since 1821 on the Dalmatian Coast of Italy. Maraschino cherries have been made in Italy since the middle ages and are significantly different than the standard maraschino cherries found in an average American Shirley Temple. Delicious in cocktails, these cherries are also used by pastry chefs and are phenomenal on ice cream or to top off a panna cotta.
How do you like your Old-Fashioned?
- 1 tangerine, sliced in half
- ½ t sugar
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 2 dashes bitters
- 1 maraschino cherry
- 1 slice tangerine
- Muddle the tangerine and sugar in a cocktail shaker until the tangerine releases most of its juice.
- Add ice and bourbon to the shaker and shake until the cocktail shaker is cold and the outside is condensed, about 20 seconds.
- Strain into an ice-filled glass, preferably one large ice cube.
- Garnish with bitters, a maraschino cherry and a slice of tangerine.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH