Well, whaddya know? November 2nd through November 11th is Old Fashioned Week! Every year!
Lucky for me because I happen to love an Old Fashioned, it's actually one of my first "signature" cocktails, having been introduced to it by a very great lady back in my early college days. It became a weekly ritual with us after I finished classes on Thursdays, one week at her house, next at mine. Mrs. Smothers, my neighbor, made hers the way they were expected in those days, with lots of Maraschino cherries and several orange slices muddled together before tossing in the ice and her brandy. Though many consider this a blasphemy in this age of bespoke cocktails, I ignore the critics and will still make an Old Fashioned this way occasionally (though I skip the toxic chemical loaded "Maraschino cherries" found on your local grocery shelf and use my own Homemade Maraschino or Bourbon Cherries instead.)
Below is the International Bartenders Association (IBA) recipe for the Old Fashioned:
4.5 cl Bourbon or Rye whiskey
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1 sugar cube
Few dashes plain water
Place sugar cube in old-fashioned glass and saturate with bitters, add a dash of plain water.
Muddle until dissolve. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add whiskey. Garnish with orange slice and a cocktail cherry.
I love every iteration of this classic drink, from brandy to bourbon to whiskey and even rum when the spirit moves me, and have several unique recipes based on it. Try them out and check back all this week, I think I might be going on an Old Fashioned binge for Old Fashioned Week!
I was on a quest to add some more fernet drinks to my cocktail list and stumbled on a recipe for a Fernet Alexander. That recipe is not only in the Alexander family of drinks, it's similar in ingredients, ratios and taste to a Golden Cadillac. Where a Golden Cadillac is typically made with equals parts Galliano, crème de cacao and cream, the Fernet Alexander employs Fernet Branca, another herbal liqueur, in place of the Galliano.
Fernet is an Italian amaro and one of the more aggressively herbal liqueurs, definitely an acquired taste. Though typically served as a digestif, it can add some serious aromatic herbal essence to a cocktail if used judiciously. Usually made with the basic components of saffron, myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom and aloe, the recipes vary from brand to brand and all are heavily guarded secrets. My personal favorite is Fernet Branca and over the last few years I have developed a fondness for it's bitter, minty licorice forward flavor, especially when mixed into the right cocktail.
Here I have replaced the white crème de cacao with dark crème de cacao, added a dash of orange and adjusted the ratios to create a fernet infused Golden Cadillac / Alexander which I've called a Fernet Cadillac.
3/4 Oz Fernet Branca
1-1/2 Oz Dark Crème de Cacao
1-1/4 Oz Half & Half
2 Dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
Dash of Sea Salt*
Garnish: Dusting of Dark Cocoa Powder, Orange Twist (express over top of cocktail)
Tools: Cocktail Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer
Chill the coupe in the freezer.
And the ingredients to an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously (to dissolve the salt) until well chilled.
Strain into cocktail glass, garnish and serve.
* Why the salt? Because it tames the very aggressive herbal nature of the Fernet a bit and it brings up the chocolate.