I’ll never forget the first time I had an Old Fashioned. I was in Prague visiting one of my oldest friends and we stumbled upon a very charming cosmopolitan cocktail bar, Hemingway Bar. I knew immediately that this was my kind of place. The sleek, dark wood bar was accented by perfectly straight rows of bottles and stacked glassware. Slightly pretentious, in the best possible way, it was a bar with decorum and literary references. I was young enough that I wasn’t quite sure what type of drink to have, though I did have a concept of my tastes. After some brief discussion with the bartender, he suggested a classic cocktail: the Old Fashioned. I was informed that it would take a bit of time as it was a laborious process, but well worth the wait. A much younger version of me watched with a sense of awe as he crafted the drink. Exacting portions were painstakingly stirred until the sugar dissolved in a subtly sweet infusion. All these years later, I’m not entirely sure whether he used rye, bourbon, or some other whiskey. There aren’t many drinks in life that leave such a lasting impression, but that cocktail is one I’ll always remember.
This isn’t your father’s Old Fashioned. Some might argue that it’s not even a real Old Fashioned. This is true enough, I supposed. A New Fashioned for a new year…an Orange Fashioned, if you will. Whatever you decide to call it, it leaves the classic appeal in tact while adding a bit more complexity.
When I discovered Smoked Orange Cocktail Bitters, I immediately knew that I had to have them. The faint smell of smoke wafts up as soon as you open it. The taste is mild but very pleasant. I decided to play up the orange flavor, just a bit, with orange blossom honey instead of sugar. Not only does it add flavor, you don’t have to worry about dissolving the sugar so you can simply stir and sip. Just for fun, I also decided to try my hand at flaming an orange peel, figuring this would further augment the smoked bitters. (There are some great tutorials courtesy of Food and Wine magazine, Serious Eats, and others.) if you haven’t tried this, you really should…it’s rather fun!
Smoked Orange Old Fashioned
1 tsp. orange blossom honey
1/4 tsp. (about 1 1/2 droppers full) Cocktail Punk’s Smoked Orange Cocktail Bitters*
1 tsp. soda water
2 oz. bourbon
Directions: In a rocks glass combine honey, bitters, and soda. Stir until thoroughly combined and soda has ceased fizzing. Stir in bourbon and add large cube of ice.
Flame orange twist by holding peel side near a lit match to gently heat oils. After a few seconds, aim the peel towards the glass and give a sharp squeeze. The oils should catch on the flame and gently infuse the drink.**
Notes: *If you don’t have Smoked Orange Cocktail Bitters, any orange bitter would be a reasonable substitute, though you’d lose some of the depth of the drink. However, you may have to scale back slightly, so starting with a dash is recommended.
**While flaming an orange twist makes an impressive presentation, always exercise caution when using open flame around alcohol.