Happy Sunday, all! I know this means it’s cleaning day and that the weekend is nearly over but CHEER UP – IT’S MAD MEN DAY! I cooked this cocktail up for last week’s premiere event, but you better believe we’ll be crafting some more Don Draper favorites for tonight’s episode.
On my way into Publix recently I happened upon a new kitchen store downtown (what a happy accident that was!). As I meandered around, I noticed this wasn’t your average kitchen store. It was stocked with some pretty hard to find utensils and pantry staples. The owner and I got to talkin’ and I came to find she was a retired chef who simply chased her dream of owning a food-related store where she could carry whatever her heart desired. Well, thank you ma’am. This might just be my new favorite go-to spot! So anyway…I came across a few things that piqued my interest, but ended up leaving with two bottles of bitters – Peach Bitters and Rhubarb Bitters. Bitters are one of those things I’ve never kept around because it seems that these day they’re used so infrequently in cocktails that you end up being stuck with the bottle for yearrrrrs [Dad – would you agree? How long has that bottle of bitters been on your bar?]. But a recent drink date at a new bar downtown ended in a most splendid Manhattan. Their secret? Homemade Pecan Bitters. Ever since I’ve been on the hunt for some unique flavors. As it turned out, the woman who owned this store was equally intrigued with the classic cocktail boom and had a huge sampling of every flavor you could imagine! Mint bitters, chocolate bitters (?), Smoked Orange Bitters, Black Cherry Bitters… And then she used either her past culinary knowledge, or her newly acquired skills in sales, to tell me about all the ways she uses bitters in cooking which would keep my bottle from sitting dormant for years on end. SOLD! I’ll take two bottles please. 🙂
Before we begin, how about a few fun facts that I learned about bitters:
1) The well known Angostura Bitters were first compounded in Venezuela by German physician Dr. Johann Gottlieb as a cure for sea sickness. The company made it’s profits by selling the bitters to sailors.
2) It was first known for being the “starter” in a drink called a Pink Gin. A splash or two of Angostura bitters was swirled around the glass before adding large amounts of gin. The color from the bitters turned the drink pink. How’s that for a cocktail that will knock you on your….
3) The oldest and rarest bottles of bitters are worth a range of tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe we should take a second look at those bottles that have been hibernating on our bars for all these years 😉
So here’s my spin on the classic Old Fashioned. Let me preface this with a message to all you classic cocktail aficionados out there – Yes, I realize this isn’t the “classic” recipe, hence my naming it a Not-So-Old Fashioned and Yes, I realize putting cherry juice in it may seem HORRIFIC to some of you but I like it. And I drink what I like. So go sit in a hole and drink your own Old Fashioned. Why are you reading this anyway, if you know so much?
NOT-SO-OLD FASHIONED – A Milk Truck Original!
2 tsp sugar (+1 tsp water to dissolve it in)
2 Dashes Rhubarb Bitters
2 oz your favorite Bourbon
Cherry + 1 spoonful of juice from the cherry jar
1) Dissolve the sugar in a tiny bit of water in the bottom of the glass. Add your bitters and swirl this around a bit. Now take a big whiff of it. Isn’t that lovely? You’re welcome.
2) Fill your glass with ice (if you like). Typically they say the bigger the cubes the better so that they melt slower and don’t water down your bourbon, but it’s a Sunday night people. I needed to water it down a little, you know? Don’t hold it against me.
3) Pour the bourbon over the ice and add your splash of cherry juice over the top (it will sink down as you sip it). Garnish with your lemon and orange.