House Whiskey: Old Fashioned

Do other families have an appointed cocktail or is it just ours? The Old Fashioned (OF) holds as special place in my heart, in our hearts. It was my grandfather’s drink. I’ve been playing barkeep (or bar prep) to this cocktail for as long as I can remember. The drink is important, so much that’s its transcended generations, synonymous with Christmas, hunting in Northern Michigan, Weddings, and even baby showers (well only mine I guess).

It’s a tradition, every detail from the cut of the oranges to the glass. I made my own OF bitters one year and left them in amber eye dropper bottles for my family as gifts. It’s not me, this is a gesture of the highest affection. Another year I made an OF holiday simple syrup with cardamon, but deemed it unworthy for family distribution. You don’t mess around with the classic, but it didn’t stop me from mixing my own whiskey for a special whiskey OF concoction.

While in San Francisco I chatted up a a bar tender about a house whiskey mix they use. I thought it might do the trick for a seasonal OF whiskey, it’s little sweeter than something store bought. My tiny cocktail barrel was empty so things sort of pored into place.

House Whiskey: Old Fashioned

  • 1.125 ml. Wild Turkey 81 (1 1/2 bottels)
  • 675 ml. Tennessee Sour Mash Dickle 8 year (mostly the bottle)450 ml.
  • Elijah craig 12 year small batch (over 1/2 bottle)

Method: Store in container and let rest for 2 weeks, I used my 3 liter barrel to rest and drained into two 1.75l containers

What gave me the me the disillusion that I could do a better job of blending // mixing like Jim Beam and Jack Daniels?

Of course had to compare the two whiskeys in an OF and Manhattan recipe, this was the fun part.

A night separated the cocktails, above is a OF and below is a Manhattan.

Conclusion: Wish I had better news… If it’s made in a small batch for the circumstances on a special occasion, it’s great. However it’s not head and shoulders above anything you can’t purchase. It’s an economy of scale in turning a “good” into a “better than good”. If you’re in a bar business and have the capacity to do this at scale, which is how I got the recipe, it makes sense. I think this year my OF will be served better with some unique bitter combinations and a Very Old Barton or a Weller Whiskey.

Always keep a few of these 1.75 ml bottles around for just such an occasion.