Dale DeGroff is the godfather of the modern craft cocktail movement. He set the stage for it in 2002 when he published his seminal book, The Craft of the Cocktail, which should be required reading for every home bartender. In a recent article in New York Magazine By Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, DeGroff is asked what is the most underrated cocktail. He goes on to tell the authors that it’s the muddled version of the Old Fashioned. We don’t know if it’s the most underrated, but it certainly is high on that list.
The craft crowd pooh-poohs the muddled Old-Fashioned, but you know, on Thanksgiving my family took a piece of orange, a cherry, extra bitters, muddled the hell out of it with a sugar cube. My mother even made us put a little of that awful juice from the cherry jar in hers and they were delicious.Dale DeGroff
The Old Fashioned is at once a classic, simple, and easy to make drink and at the same time a confusing cocktail that comes in many varieties. It’s just whiskey, sugar, bitters and fruit, after all. But then it gets confusing. Bourbon or Rye? Sugar cube or Simple Syrup? Add the fruit as a garnish or muddle it? Add soda or not – yes, many bars add club soda to the drink . . . yuck. And, of course, there’s a question about the quantity of each (see our preferences in our recipe here).
We like it with muddled fruit. While it seems intimidating (see our tutorial on muddling here), it adds just a few seconds to the preparation of the drink. You put in the sugar cube or simple syrup, then use a muddler or the back of a big spoon to squeeze everything together. Just a few quick presses do the trick. Add the whiskey and bitters and, voila, you have a perfect Old Fashioned. One that the king of cocktails would approve of.