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Entertaining
4 New, Easy Twists on the Old Fashioned

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The Old Fashioned is a masterpiece in simplicity. A blend of three ingredients—sugar, bitters and liquor—the O.G. classic has earned street cred not just among Mad Men fanatics, but also with bartenders, thanks in large part to its versatility.

“The Old Fashioned cocktail is extremely simple, making it a great candidate for recipe alterations,” says Lucinda Sterling, bartender and managing partner at New York’s Middle Branch. “Anyone who wishes to modify the ratios or ingredients need only add or change one.”

To showcase the cocktail’s extreme malleability, we collected four variations that make simple alterations to the classic to result in big flavor boosts. Each is effortless and tempting, and will give you a new appreciation for the original Old Fashioned.

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The Old Fashioned’s simple formula makes it easy to manipulate, according to Johnny Swet, cocktail consultant at The Skylark. “It’s two ounces bourbon, half an ounce of simple syrup and bitters. So, if you switch out the simple syrup for a sweet liqueur, like the Nocello we use at The Skylark, it works perfectly.” Swet suggests Nocello over another liqueur because its roasted nutty flavor “brings out the notes from the barrel aging in the bourbon.” The result is similar to booze-infused candied walnuts—but so much easier to make (and, dare we say, more delicious too).

The Essentials

bourbon
Nocello Walnut Liqueur
Angostura Bitters
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Part of the beauty of the Old Fashioned is that it’s not tied down to any season. That’s especially true when you get a killer twist on the classic like Sterling’s Midnight Train, which channels one of summer’s most elusive fruits.

“When using a great base spirit, such as Elijah Craig bourbon, the alteration need be only minor,” she says. “The Midnight Train substitutes the sugar with peach liqueur, which brings out the sweet vanilla and smoke in the bourbon.”

Not only does the alteration work wonders to bring the Old Fashioned rearing into the warmer months, but when blended with bitters and topped off with a lemon twist, it calls to mind another summer classic. According to Sterling, “The Midnight Train resembles a fresh baked, boozy peach pie—a true Southern delight.” Count us in.

The Essentials

bourbon
Peach liqueur
Angostura bitters
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“The glory of an Old Fashioned is that it's barely adulterated booze—but it's the specificity of said adulteration that makes it magical,” says Joaquín Simó of New York’s Pouring Ribbons. He chooses to adulterate his classic Old Fashioned with three special touches—honey syrup for sweetness, and Green Chartreuse and Dolin Genepy des Alpes for a distinct herbal flavor and complexity. But Simó also ensures that the base spirit complements those subtle but rich flavors. Instead of bourbon or rye, he substitutes Irish whiskey—ideally a 12-year-old pot still Irish whiskey—to play off its smooth malty notes. Simó’s thoughtful fusion of ingredients doesn’t stop at the garnish: To finish the drink off, he adds a sprig of refreshing mint that helps to fully awaken and revive your palate with each sip.

The Essentials

Irish whiskey
Honey Syrup
Green Chartreuse
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Despite the drink’s name, you don’t have to wait for Old Man Winter to strike before you make this twist on the classic Old Fashioned—in fact, its cooling powers can be channelled even during the dog days of summer. To create the Snowball Old Fashioned for the seasonal pop-up Miracle on Ninth Street, mixology master Nico de Soto blends the typical ingredients—bourbon, demerara syrup and Angostura bitters—with a simple touch of herbal digestif Becherovka that adds a new layer to the cocktail. All it requires is a steady hand and, of course, an ice sphere to make it look like, well, you get it.

The Essentials

bourbon
becherovka
demerara syrup

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