The Rum Old-Fashioned: Twist on a Classic
The quintessential cocktail, the Old-Fashioned is a classic every bartender should know and perfect. In close contention with only the Sazerac, the Old-Fashioned is thought by some historians to be the first cocktail ever mixed. Reminiscent of a beloved, all-American granddad, the Old-Fashioned is complex, refined and treasured by many. And, it’s served in a short, round, tumbler/rocks glass, also known as an old-fashioned…cocktails with dedicated glassware are typically something special.
Made by muddling a Maraschino cherry and sugar or simple syrup with bitters, then adding whiskey, bourbon, rye whiskey, or sometimes brandy, and finally a twist of citrus rind, the Old-Fashioned is traditionally served on ice but can be served neat. For an interesting twist, try making this classic with quality, aged, dark rum, such as Zacapa XO or Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year (this in not your typical spiced rum kind of drink). A barrel aged rum will mimic the appeal of whiskey while adding a touch of spicy sweetness to the drink.
To make at home:
- Thumb-sized orange peel (no pith, and certainly not a wedge)
- 1 sugar cube or a 1/2 tsp of simple syrup
- 2 oz. aged rum (such as Zacapa or the others shown here)
- 2-3 dashes orange bitters
- Maraschino cherry (preferably a good one, such as Luxardo)
Pour approximately one-half a teaspoon of simple syrup into a short rocks/old-fashioned glass (or add one sugar cube and a drop of water to loosen it up – most don’t keep cubed sugar on their bar and using simple syrup does not diminish the taste).
Add a Luxardo cherry (you can use a bright red grocery store Maraschino cherry but trust me, it’s worth the upgrade).
Muddle the sugar and cherry and add a couple dashes of bitters (I like to use Angostura Orange Bitters but there are a slew of quality bitters readily available, such as Woodford Reserve, Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers).
Pour in 2 oz. of quality dark rum.
Lastly, take the orange peel and “twist” it over the top of the drink to release the oils of the rind. Lightly stir. Then, drop the peel and a chunk of ice (or not) into the glass and enjoy.
Brett Richardson owns Admiral Wine and Spirits, located off Northshore Drive in west Knoxville, and carries a great selection of high-end rums, spirits, wines and craft beers.