If you’ve been to Whisler’s, chances are good that you’ve had the Old Fashioned — maybe it’s the one and only drink you order there — or you’ve heard, while sitting inside the popular East Austin bar, customer after customer tell the bartender to make an Old Fashioned.
That’s because there’s something special about Whisler’s version of this most classic of cocktails. It lacks frills, to be sure. No fancy bitters or extra ingredients to put a modern twist on it, like rosemary, maple syrup or truffle honey. (Yes, those are all things people have put in Old Fashioneds of late.) All this one’s got — as a good one should — are the requisite bourbon, sugar and Angostura bitters.
But maybe it’s the whiskey Whisler’s uses — Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon. Or the bar’s decision to use Demerara sugar, which is minimally processed and can retain more of the base sugar cane’s natural molasses than other types of sugar can. Or maybe it’s that the bartenders stir all the ingredients together exactly 25 times. We’ll go ahead and guess the key to this perfectly balanced, boozy cocktail is all of these factors.
Over the years, Whisler’s estimates its bartenders have made almost half a million Old Fashioneds. The cocktail bar tucked inside a rustic, 100-year-old building has a menu that changes with the seasons, but the Old Fashioned is always available. So it only made sense that we feature it as the next recipe in our Austin Cocktails at Home series, which highlights mixed drinks from local bars that we’re missing right now during Austin’s shelter-in-place mandate.
Here’s the recipe, as provided by Whisler’s owner Scranton Twohey. He’s modified it slightly to account for the fact that we’re all stuck at home and may not have all the necessary ingredients. (It is worth noting, of course, that liquor stores are considered essential, and some of them deliver. The Elijah Craig will run you about $25.)
Whisler’s Old Fashioned
2 oz. bourbon
1/4 oz. simple syrup
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish expressed orange peel
Optional maraschino cherry
Pour ingredients into a container. Stir 25 times. Pour over ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass. Express the oils of an orange peel swath into the glass by twisting it with both hands and then wipe around the rim of the glass. Add one maraschino cherry.
To make simple syrup:
1/2 cup Sugar in the Raw
1/2 cup water
Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Strain into a jar and seal. Simple syrup can keep, refrigerated, for about a month.
— Scranton Twohey
Have a cocktail from your favorite local watering hole in mind that you’d like to learn how to make in an upcoming Austin Cocktails at Home installment? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.