How about a batched Bold Old Fashioned featuring high proof bourbon and a little smoke and heat? This week I’m posting recipes that can be found in “Which Fork Do I Use with my Bourbon?” a new book by Peggy Noe Stevens and Susan Reigler on entertaining with bourbon. When they asked me for some easily batched Old Fashioned recipes, this one came to mind as one that a group of serious bourbon drinkers would enjoy.
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What’s in an Old Fashioned Cocktail?
While I could talk about old fashioneds for hours, at its most basic, the old fashioned cocktail is a combination of whiskey, sugar (in some form) and bitters. I’ve written more about the history and composition of a basic old fashioned here, How to Make a Perfect Old Fashioned. And it’s a fun cocktail to make variations of simply because each flavor element contributes so much to the cocktail.
Why This Bold Old Fashioned Works for Whiskey Lovers
For the Bold Old, my favorite batched (or single) old fashioned, I kept close to a traditional old fashioned recipe, but I wanted to make it a little more aggressive. We start with a high proof spirit, and at 115 proof, Old Forester 1920 fits the bill.
I added in smoky, spicy bitters to add a little heat along with the demerara simple. It’s a smoke that reminds me of how it smells on the cooperage floor near the barrel-charring stations. It’s got smoke, but not an overwhelming amount.
In addition to the smoke, the bitters also bring some heat to the cocktail. In the way that cayenne is used in Mexican hot chocolate, the bitters increase the heat on the mouthfeel and extend the finish without adding a lot of flavor other than smoke to the cocktail, leaving the whiskey as the star.
To finish the drink we’ll look to a freshly charred cinnamon stick. The heat activates the cinnamon oils in the stick and the char on the stick accentuates the smoke in the bitters, tying the drink together.
If you want to take this to the next level, char the cinnamon and light it on fire, then place the old fashioned cups over the smoked cinnamon to give the glass a bit of smoke. You can do that for a number of glasses in front of your guests, placing them on a cutting board together until you’re ready to serve them.
If you’re looking for a more approachable batched bourbon cocktail, try this one, the Fleur de Lis Manhattan, also in Peggy and Susan’s book.
Bold Old Fashioned – Single
- 2 oz Old Forester Whiskey Row 1920 expression or any high proof bourbon 110 or above
- ½ oz demerara syrup 1:1 demerara sugar to water
- 3-4 dashes Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters
- Garnish: charred cinnamon stick
- Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a charred cinnamon stick.
Batched Bold Old Fashioned for 8-10
- 2 cups Old Forester Whiskey Row 1920
- ½ cup demerara simple syrup 1:1 ratio of demerara to water
- 24-32 dashes of Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters
- ½ cup water
- Garnish: charred cinnamon sticks
- Combine ingredients in a container and stir until well-combined. The easiest way to add the bitters if you’re making this in an empty 750 mL is to add the bitters to the simple syrup before you add it to the bottle. Use the lower threshold of smoked bitters and chill well in a fridge. Once chilled, take a moment to taste test the cocktail. Add more bitters as needed and make sure the drink is completely chilled before serving in a rocks glass over ice. Make sure you garnish the drink with a charred cinnamon stick before serving.