GIF Tutorial: How to Make an Old-Fashioned

If you have one classic cocktail in your arsenal, let it be this.

  • This gentleman makes a mean Old-Fashioned. Click through the gallery to see him put it down...
  • Step 1: Drop a sugar cube in your mixing glass. At PDT, it's demerara (fancy brown sugar), but you can use a regular ol' cube or a 1/2 teaspoon of loose sugar as well. Bell likes the grittiness of a muddled sugar cube over a syrup, so if you want to be like him, make the extra effort.
  • Wet your sugar cube with a single capful of club soda...
  • ...as well as a couple dashes of Angostura bitters.
  • Using a wooden muddler (or a spoon or a pen or whatever you have lying around), grind the sugar cube until it forms a paste-like consistency. "You're basically making an à la minute simple syrup," says Bell.
  • Next up: two ounces of delicious rye whisky. You can use whatever you want—Bell likes the Russell's Reserve 6-Year Rye from Wild Turkey.
  • Toss some ice into your mixing glass and immediately begin to stir, continuing for about 20 seconds. Why not just toss in some ice and shake it up? "All the ingredients in here are going to incorporate fine because there's no citrus or egg or anything, so stirring will maintain a nice smooth texture and not aerate the drink." If you're feeling lazy, you can skip this step and just add ice to the rye, bitters, and sugar before serving.
  • At PDT, Bell strains the drink over a massive rock of ice that costs $1 to produce. You can use any ice, but a large cube is certainly a nice touch. If you do have a big rock, the previous step  is more important, as it will prevent the ice from cracking when you pour liquid over it.
  • Recall our

Photo and GIFs by Liz Barclay

Welcome back to the First We Feast GIF Tutorial series, where we ask restaurant cooks and pro bartenders to show us how step up our technique when cooking and making drinks at home.

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is taking over New York today, so we’re currently mainlining electrolytes and applying sunscreen in anticipation of a nice five-day soak in a sea of bitters, fresh juices, and dark spirits. But while the Classic will involve chasing down cocktails from some of the country’s best bartenders, this weekend is also a great time to educate yourself on the far more sustainable practice of making your own drinks at home.

Yesterday, PDT’s Jeff Bell showed us how to cut a citrus peel and make a Negroni. Today, we’re tackling another untouchable classic: the Old-Fashioned.

Yes, it’s fun to pretend you’re Don Draper while brandishing a brown-and-stirred quaff, but the Old-Fashioned didn’t need Mad Men to be cool. It is and always will be a near perfect delivery system for rye whiskey, balancing the spiciness of the spirit with just a touch of sugar and aromatic bitters. And with only a few simple steps involved in making an Old-Fashioned, it’s exactly the type of cocktail you’d want to whip up at the end of a long day—there’s great pleasure to be had from the ritual, and certainly from the drinking.

Here, Bell gives us a traditional take on the classic. Needless to say, there are countless variations on the Old-Fashioned—you can swap the rye for whatever brand you like, and play around with different bitters to your heart’s content. Just don’t muddle extraneous fruits at the bottom of the glass—some things are, in fact, too sacred to mess with.

PDT Old-Fashioned

* 1 sugar cube

* Splash of club soda

* 2 dashes of Angostura bitters

* 2 ounces of rye whiskey

Combine sugar, club soda, and bitters in a mixing glass and muddle into a paste. Add whiskey, then stir with a ice and strain over a large ice cube.

Check back tomorrow at 10am for the final installment of Bell’s masterclass, when he’ll be showing us how to work with egg whites and make a Campari fizz.

 

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