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Old Fashioned, can't beat a classic

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Old fashioned, a three ingredients drink if you ignore the ice and the water. As simple as the ingredients may seems, a well crafted one will rock your palate. To put it simply a decently made old fashioned will allow you to taste all the wonderful things of the whiskey without the alcohol bite. After all, the birth of such cocktail is to hide the off flavors from poorly distilled whiskey in the early days of distilling where distillers in the US are still trying to figure it out.

As time went by, whiskey becomes better, it became a showcase of the whiskeys and some bartenders even took it to the next level with culinary techniques and better ingredients like bitters and various sweeteners.

The one from the left is the Maple Butter Smoked Old Fashioned from Clarks & Co. in Victoria, British Columbia. It is like a complex alcoholic tea.

Speaking of which, I will definitely visit that bar again once traveling is possible. Great whisk(e)y collection and amazing cocktails.

Flaming the peel can also add a layer of complexity to the old fashioned.

As someone who got quite a bit of experience with mixing solutions and doing it in a precise manner, I decided to give it a try a while back. It came out like a trainwreck. When people ask about my job in a bar, I usually say to them I have a similar job as a bartender. So I expected that I could replicate at least 70% of the flavor profile during my first trial. Disregarding the aesthetic of the drink, the drink is practically broken. The flavor of the ingredients hadn't really married and became better than the sum of its parts. Each sip is either too boozy or bitter; if not worse, watery.

Since that trial my respect for bartender grows bigger. And in last April when Covid is all over the place in Hong Kong, I ordered two old fashioned in the bottle to support my favorite bar assembly and bartender Izzo in Hong Kong.

Izzo is a skillful bartender that nailed the classic drink like old fashioned and so is other fancy looking cocktail. Treat yourself to a wonderful cocktail made by Izzo in Popinjays and you will thanks me later.

Call me old fashioned. I would order it anytime but not anywhere cause it is a drink that requires good craftmanship.


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