Waterford's Old Fashioned

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I want to date your Grandmother.

In a time before swizzle sticks and puerile, tawdry garnishes; when merely glancing at the Vermouth was a wet Martini; when Cosmos were understood to be garish flapdoodle and Vodka was recognized as a drink for nebbish, mountebank swindlers of low society; a time when a cocktail was a cocktail and a woman of a certain class, stature and a touch of naughty lasciviousness drank Old Fashioneds, True Old Fashioneds, without all the bosh, mulled, turbid rubbish mucking up the drink and nulling the flavors of the booze; that woman, that saucy little tart, made a bad boy out of me.

And while you’ve been ignoring, I’ve been romancing, stroking the hot fires of love. But I’m a nice guy, not incommoded by your neglect and willing to share my sagacious secrets of persuasion. This Valentine’s Day I’m going to date your Grandmother because I’m Old Fashioned.

You see, it’s all in the booze.

You’re used to having bad Old Fashioneds – watered down with club soda or worse, 7-Up; tarted up like a cheap floozy with sugar cubes or simple syrup, and garnished to the point of distraction. But Grandma’s beyond all that – she’s not attending a frat party looking to hook up via the machinations of a tank of whopatooli. She’s got a young buck coming for her who knows how to make the good stuff. And here it is:
Like a great Chef, starting with great ingredients, an Old Fashioned is a harmony of flavors – Bourbon, orange, and cherry. It is an orchestration of these flavors brought together into a single, assertive taste.

Up North I am willing to take the Brandy exception, but down here the key ingredient is Bourbon, and in Old Fashioneds the Bourbon should be Rye. In fact, it needs to be Willet Straight Rye. Rye has a malty brown sweetness that broadens across the palate. But Rye needs an expansive auditorium of high proof to flex its muscular richness. And Willet, set at 115, gives it up.

Combining with and complementing the Willet is an XO Orange Cognac. XO because it’s held in barrel for 10 years giving the spirit a citrusy high note. And orange because it’s macerated with orange zests. When blended together the Rye is lifted up, releasing its cinnamon, clove, cardamom and baking spice flavor elements that delicately combine with the raisin and citrus notes of the Cognac.

Already I am wooing your Grandma with an Old Fashioned like no other. But allow me to explicate further:

Mixing off the sour teat of the rail, many a mixologists retreat to simple syrup, i.e. sugar, to hide the despicable concoction they refer to as an Old Fashioned. Sugar is a crutch, making the drink taste vague, like alcoholic tap water from the prep-sink at a Turkish restaurant. It is completely unnecessary if your ingredients are of the highest quality.
And my ingredients ain’t cheap, and Grandma is going to taste that.

Here is how an Old Fashioned should be finished off: garnish with one, and just one, real maraschino cherry. I said REAL cherries. Not the hot pink Xanadu kind found in grocery stores that taste like diesel fuel. Maraschino cherries provide a foundation for the rye and cognac to rest on. Do not mull the cherry. A garnish should be like punctuation, a simple guide to the structure of the thought, not its raison d’etre.

Finally, a bitter note to stimulate the palate into action: Bittercube’s cherry bark bitters. This bitter provides focus and intensity to the rye making the palate smooth and supple. Like salt in a well-made sauce you can’t taste it, but it lifts all the other components into harmony.

This is a True Old Fashioned – a cocktail that announces itself and leaves the Cosmo crowd crying for soda pop. It’s boozy and bold, making you wondering why you would drink anything else. Welcome back to a true cocktail.

So this Valentine’s Day, while you’re chasing tail and getting caught; while you’re once again neglecting one of the greatest women in your life; I’ll be there, drinking an Old Fashioned.