July 16, 2014
If you look at the original definition of "cocktail," what you will find are four simple ingredients: spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Those elements, when brought together with a dash of citrus, still today make up the ingredients of one immortal drink: the Old Fashioned. Since this original definition, the elements themselves of an Old Fashioned haven't been altered, but they have evolved. With a big, bold spirit as its
foundation—like a Knob Creek® Bourbon—the Old Fashioned, in its simplicity,
allows bartenders to experiment and add their own personal touches.
We asked Swift Attic's bar manager Jeff Hammett to give us his personal take on this classic cocktail. Instead of the traditional bourbon, Hammett opts for Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey for its bold, full-flavored spice that is able to stand up to the interesting personal touches he adds to the drink. For his "New Fashioned," Hammett infuses the rye with ginger for two weeks to add an extra bite. But that isn't the only twist he adds to change up this classic cocktail.
To start, Hammett peels a grapefruit and adds two peels to a cocktail tumbler. Grapefruit, rather than lemon or orange, pairs better with the herbs he adds later. Hammett adds that grapefruit, rather than oranges, as they are easier to source
locally in Texas.
Five to seven dashes of Angostura bitters are added to the grapefruit peels. Angostura bitters, with its closely guarded recipe, is a classic bitters choice for bartenders to
bring balance to the drink.
About an ounce and a quarter of tarragon-infused simple syrup is added next. Hammett sources the herbs from the local farm that supplies the produce to Swift's
Attic. The tarragon highlights the spice in the Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey.
He muddles the mixture in the tumbler to release the flavors, saying the muddling is
based on "what feels right."
The next step is adding two ounces of ginger-infused Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey. To infuse the flavor, Hammett peels and muddles ginger and adds it to the rye. To fully
infuse the flavor of the ginger into the spirit, he lets it steep for a full two weeks.
Rather than adding water to cut the drink, he adds soda as it pairs nicely with the
effervescence of the grapefruit and tarragon.
Five pieces of cold-pressed ice go into the tumbler.
Hammett then stirs the cocktail for 30 seconds.
Hammett focuses on unleashing the deep, earthy flavors of theKnob Creek® Rye Whiskey through infusion methods and use of high-quality ingredients. Other Austin bartenders, though, have different methods to bring out the unique flavors of the quality rye. Myria Free at Freedmen's goes fancy by using blood orange liqueur and Dolin Rouge to balance out the spice. In contrast, legendary mixologist and Peche owner Rob Pate chooses to uses Jerry Thomas bitters to bring out the spice of the rye.
But while each mixologist and bar has their own take on this immortal drink, there is one thing that remains unchanged and critical to the best Old Fashioned cocktails: the big, full flavor of Knob Creek® Whiskey.