If you’d ordered a cocktail in the early-mid 1800s, most likely you’d have received a spirit mixed with sugar, bitters, and a little water.
You might have called it a “bittered sling”, but basically this is the recipe for an Old Fashioned cocktail – so called because it’s the way cocktails with whisky, rum, gin, brandy, or any other spirit you fancied in your drink, were made before bartenders started getting creative.
And it couldn’t be easier; your bartender would have muddled a cube of sugar with a little water and a few dashes of bitters until the sugar dissolved, added a couple of ounces of whisky and some ice, and stirred it all together.
Now distilleries are doing all the “hard work” for us and there are several new premixed Old Fashioned cocktails to make it even easier!
Here are four to try, and a kit to make your own at home:
All four ingredients of Bridgeland Distillery’s Old Fashioned are made at the distillery: their young 3-grain whisky, made mostly from Taber corn, their orange liqueur, bitters, and organic simple syrup. It’s deliciously warming, even served over ice, with notes of clove and cardamom from the bitters, a touch of vanilla – and of course orange! Yum!
CSPC +823340 500 mL $38
The original Spirits With Smoke kit, inspired by Calgary entrepreneurs, Antonio and Meredith, when working behind the bar at One18 Empire. Everything you want is here: five aromatic woods: cherry, hickory, maple, oak, and walnut; boutique Quebec Maple Syrup; and Canadian bitters. And more: 2-ice ball moulds, a muddler, a bar spoon, and recipe cards.
These bottled cocktails are a class act; made with well-known, high quality spirits, they possibly taste better than homemade. On The Rocks Old Fashioned is a base of Knob Creek bourbon to which bitters and cane sugar is added, along with orange, cherry, and lemon zest. Pour over ice, add a twist of orange peel – and no one will ever know!
CSPC +831908 100 mL $7, +831901 375 mL $22
This gorgeous little bottle contains a lip-smacking blend of cask-strength, American bourbon and rye whiskey with smoked chocolate and vanilla bitters with lots of orange peel, and gomme syrup (cane sugar with natural gum arabic from Acacia trees), aged in first-fill bourbon barrels. It’s sweet and luscious, with baking spice flavours – we’d take this instead of dessert!
CSPC + 819668 200mL around $14
Founded 163 years ago, JP Wiser’s is Canada’s oldest continuously produced Canadian whisky distiller, and has just released its first ready-to-serve cocktails. You can’t go wrong with the Old Fashioned; this enjoyable, easy drinking classic is nicely balanced with sweet and bitter orange, and you’ll find yourself reaching for a little more, and maybe just a little more too!
CPSC +804510 750 mL $36-37