In Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide, an “improved” cocktail is a simple cocktail in the traditional sense of the word (spirit, sugar and water) that is “improved” with some added liqueur and/or absinthe, and garnished with an expressed lemon peel. The Improved Whiskey Cocktail is essentially an Old Fashioned with the addition of maraschino liqueur, a dash of Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe. If you’re a fan of Sazeracs—and obviously Old Fashioneds—this enduring libation is destined to become your new favorite.
Improved Whiskey Cocktail
- Add the sugar cube to a lowball glass and soak it with bitters, maraschino and absinthe.
- Muddle until the sugar cube is dissolved.
- Add the whiskey to the glass with a large cube of ice and stir until incorporated.
- Squeeze the oils of a large swath of lemon peel over the cocktail and rub it over the lip of the glass before discarding.
In 1948, a New York tax-attorney-turned-cocktail-whiz published The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, which to this day remains an indispensable bartending guide. Its author, David A. Embury, held that six cocktails reign above all others, and perched atop his list is the Old Fashioned, a marvel of simplicity and elegance that has endured almost...