I’ve been extremely lucky in my past few restaurant/bar positions in that I have had some liberty in experimenting with different ingredients and techniques. As I stated before, after my initial encounter with the Old Fashioned, I then began tinkering with different elements. My best creation to date is appropriately named “The New Fashioned”.
With my current position at Hotel Casa 425 as the bar manager, I am very fortunate to be able to continue my experimentations and bring new things to the area. I am in the final stages of finishing our new menu as well as a “secret cocktail menu” for those who are looking for something different. I am doing my best to bring some diverse concepts, flavors and ingredients to the Inland Empire. I hope that my program is well-received, my goal is to help spread the cocktail culture and educate guests on what is beyond their comfort zones.
One of the items on the secret menu will be my New Fashioned. The New Fashioned base consists of a muddled strawberry with agave nectar and angostura bitters. For the whiskey, I used Booker’s bourbon, a delicious high-proof spirit with lots of character. I like this drink because the strawberry adds a more subtle sweetness than that of an “atomic red” maraschino cherry found in most bars. The strawberry also adds a bit of acidity to the drink which I think helps bring out the vanilla and caramel notes of the bourbon.
2 ounces Booker’s bourbon
1 ounce agave nectar
1/2 strawberry diced
4-5 dashes Angostura bitters
2 ounces club soda
1 Old Fashioned glass
Ice (actual cubes are best, the bigger, the better)
Citrus peeler or knife
Add the agave and the bitters to the glass. Since the agave is already in a syrup state, there is no need at this moment to incorporate the two.
Slice and dice half of a strawberry. Note: When I first experimented with this formula, I tried muddling both a whole strawberry and then a half strawberry. I found that the drink tasted fine, but that the consistency was not ideal due to the way the strawberry stayed connected in a long strand. My solution was to chop up the fruit so that it could inter-mingle with the rest of the drink and create a uniform substance.
Add the strawberry to the glass and muddle to release the juices and oils of the strawberry. You don’t want to mash down hard, as the firmness of the strawberry may shoot the agave/bitters up and out of the glass. just use gentle pressure to break up the strawberry pieces into a pulp.
Once you have mashed the elements into a pureé-like consistency, it is time to add the Booker’s. I like to use a jigger to ensure I pour the precise amount. If you add too much or too little, the drink will not be balanced and the result will not be ideal. We’ve all had a bartender who tried to “hook us up” with a heavy pour, but this rarely makes the drink any better. In many cases it makes it worse, because then the cocktail is not palatable or even pleasant for that matter. I digress…
Once the Booker’s has been added, give the drink a gentle stir to mix in all the ingredients. Use a bar spoon or straw to work the strawberries in with the bourbon. This shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. You want to try and create as uniform consistency as possible.
Add a large ice cube/cubes and stir again to create a little dilution. Note: For the hotel bar, we have smallish ice cubes that work really well to dilute cocktails, but are not the best for chilling a drink. I tried using our mini-muffin pans to make ice cubes, but as they have a specific use for baking, I had to discontinue its ice-making duties. I am now working on getting some ice cube molds so that I can create the proper balance between dilution and chill, but until then, I work with what I’ve got.
Once the ice is in the glass, add the 2 ounces of club soda on top and give it another stir. You don’t necessarily have to be precise with the 2 ounces, just fill the rest of the glass with the bubbly water. Any brand of club soda will do, when I make these at home, I like using the small bottles of Schweppes or Canada Dry.
Now it’s time for the orange. Grab that citrus orb of goodness and with a knife or peeler, scalp that sucker to get some of the rind. Don’t dig too deep, all you want is the surface and the pith (the white part).
Now take the peel and squeeze the oils out over the top of the glass, and then wipe it along the rim of the glass to create a nice aromatic layer. Remember, a great cocktail should be something that activates many senses. In this case, the orange oils will create a wonderful smell as someone approaches the glass.
We’re almost done. Next you want to drop the orange peel into the glass. The drink will actually develop more and change over time as the peel secretes more oils into the cocktail. For some extra flair, take another strawberry and slice it halfway down the middle from the tip and place it on the edge of the glass. I don’t always find it necessary, but the ladies who enjoy cocktails sure do love those fruits.
Give the drink another small swirl to get the orange peel mixing with his new friends and say, “Cheers!” You just created a New Old Fashioned.
As I have said before, take your time enjoying this drink. Take in the smell of the fresh orange with the sweet tartness of the strawberry. Savor the spiciness of the Booker’s on your tongue while it mellows out from the sweetness of the agave and fruit. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then give it another stir to move the orange peel around and further its complexity.
You will find a different sort of sweetness with this cocktail than you will with other traditional cocktails. You will hopefully find a nice balance between the sweetness of the agave and strawberry with the bitterness of the Angostura and the orange. The Booker’s bourbon will have that nice heat flavor from the high alcohol proof. Altogether, I think this is a fantastic well-balanced cocktail that can be enjoyed at home or away at a bar that has the proper ingredients. (And an apt barman who has extra time and doesn’t mind thinking outside the box).