THE OLD FASHIONED

I’ve always enjoyed the flavors of an Old Fashioned but I’ve never been fond of the pulverized bits of cherry and orange floating around in my cocktail or the granules of sugar that settle to the bottom ruining my final sip with grit and excessive sweetness. A couple years ago, I was sitting at a bar where the guest next to me ordered an Old Fashioned. I watched as the bartender dropped a chunk of ice into a rocks glass, dashed some bitters, squirted some simple syrup, added the whiskey and stirred and finally, expressed a lemon peel over the drink — that was it, clean and simple. I inquired about the technique and was told by the bartender that the original Old Fashioned recipe did not call for the muddling of fruit. In that moment, I felt the presence of my cocktail-loving ancestors. It was as though they had descended upon this very bar to show me the way to a proper and delicious Old Fashioned (this may not be far from the truth as this particular bar is, in fact, haunted).

I decided to do some research. Turns out, the original recipe which dates back to the 1850’s called for a sugar cube, bitters and whiskey. Muddling was called for but only for the sugar cube. It seems that, through the years, the recipe has evolved and “modernized” to include the muddled fruit. I for one think the original recipe is the best… although I do prefer simple syrup to the sugar cube.

In my research, I found that the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky claims to be the birthplace of the Old Fashioned. This was debunked by cocktail historian David Wondrich who found mention of the cocktail a dozen years before the Pendennis Club opened. The Pendennis Club did, however, invent another less-know classic cocktail named for the club. The Pendennis Club Cocktail is a gin based sour cocktail. Even if you don’t like gin, give this a try, you’ll be glad that you did.

Old Fashioned Recipe

Sugar cube
2 Dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz whiskey

Place sugar cube in rocks glass, add bitters and muddle. Add large ice cube and whiskey and stir.

Express a lemon peel over the cocktail and drop into the glass.

 

Pendennis Club Cocktail Recipe

.5 oz lime juice
1 oz Apricot Liqueur
2 – 3 dashes Peychaud’s Aromatic Bitters
3 oz Old Tom Gin

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Shake your tail feathers, shake your maracas, but don’t shake my Manhattan

The Manhattan is a sexy and classy cocktail with its deep ruby color and rich warming flavors. It’s my favorite winter cocktail. I can take my Manhattan with Rye or Bourbon and even Canadian whiskey, but I cannot take it shaken. Shaking a Manhattan is bartender malpractice… mixology malfeasance. The ugly foam that floats on top of the shaken Manhattan is cringe worthy; the tiny shards of ice that water down the boozy cocktail send shock waves through my pallet; the faded Cosmo-like color, ugh. A shaken Manhattan upsets all of my senses, and I am not alone. 

One evening, we ventured out to a local bar where we always order beer or wine or a perfunctory cocktail like gin and tonic. Our friend, we’ll call her Heidi, texted us that she was at the end of a challenging day and needed a cocktail. She asked where we were, said to save her a seat, order her a Manhattan and she’d be there in 5. I followed her instruction and ordered the Manhattan.  Minutes later, I hear the sound of ice being tossed around in a shaker. “Oh no, please don’t let that be Heidi’s cocktail.” The bartender placed a foamy pink cocktail in front of the empty barstool.  We looked at each other with eyes the size of saucers “what should we do, she’ll be here any second and this is going to make her bad day even worse”!  I grabbed the meringue topped cocktail and began blowing on it to try to minimize the foam. 

Somewhat successful, I sat the glass down just in time. Heidi walked into the bar and plopped down in the seat that we had saved. She took one look at the glass sitting in front of her and said “what is this?” Me: “that’s the cocktail you asked for.” Heidi: “no, I asked for a Manhattan.” Me: “I ordered a Manhattan.” A good sport, Heidi tasted the cocktail. Without any emotion, she summoned the bartender over. Super-friendly bubbly bartender: “How’s your drink?” Heidi: “Um, what exactly is it?” Super-friendly bubbly bartender: “It’s a Manhattan. Your friends ordered you a Manhattan. Do you not want a Manhattan?” Heidi, as she slides the cocktail across the bar toward the bartender: “I want a Manhattan. This is not a Manhattan. I am sure you did your best but I can’t drink this.” Her cocktail was replaced with a glass of wine.

On another occasion, I visited one of my regular stops and ordered a Manhattan from someone I don’t usually order a cocktail from. He sat the drink down in front of me and the second I looked at the foamy mess, without a word, the drink was whisked away by the bartender that generally makes my cocktails. With apologies, he returned with a properly made Manhattan, stirred, not shaken.

We had discussed a solution to this dilemma would be to ask for our Manhattan stirred, not shaken but I’m not convinced that is a good idea. If the bartender doesn’t know that a Manhattan should be stirred, do we want to drink their Manhattan anyway?

The Manhattan

The history of the cocktail is unclear, some accounts say it originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in early 1870 and was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill's mother. Other accounts say it was invented by a bartender by the name of Black at a bar on Houston St in NYC.

From David Wondrich's Recipe

Prepare a cocktail glass or coupe by placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Measure 2 oz Rye whiskey and 1 oz sweet vermouth into a standard pint glass. Add 2 – 3 dashes of Angostura bitters. Add ice and STIR about 50 revolutions. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with lemon or cherry.

 

The Gibson

So I don’t recall what I was reading or why this classic cocktail came to mind, but I announced to my boyfriend, Blair, that I have never tasted a Gibson. In fact, I don’t recall ever tasting a pickled onion. The next day, we’re at M Restaurant for happy hour (if you haven’t been to M for happy hour you are really missing out on a great deal Monday – Saturday, 5 – 7) and I order my very first Gibson. The bartender, Josh, presents me with a handsome, crisp looking cocktail garnished with two pickled pearl onions. With excitement, I pick up the chilled martini glass for my first taste of the classic tipple… it was delicious; cold and salty with just a hint of the onion flavor. Ironically, I am one of those people who generally avoid onions as they tend to stay with me for days but there must be something about the pickling that mends this awful side effect. I am giddy, so pleased with my tasty martini when Cris comes over to greet us (Cris is the head bartender, master of spirits, and all around bad-ass bartender) and proceeds to straw-taste my Gibson (she can do that, we’re friends) and exclaims, "it’s not dirty enough". She highjacks my cocktail and returns it to me with a bit more pickled onion juice and a dash of olive juice. Holy Martini… my new favorite cocktail.

Most evenings, if we’re not belly up to one of our favorite local bars, we can be found on our balcony sipping a cocktail carefully crafted by Blair. I should mention that, while Blair has never been employed as a bartender, he can mix a cocktail that would rival any seasoned bartender I know. He could never keep a job in a bar though because he would insist on joining you for a drink and would forget that there are other customers to tend to. At any rate, with pickled onions now in stock at home (olives and Gin always in stock) Blair mixes my Gibson, dirty, very dirty, with a dash of olive juice… life is good.

Cheers!

The Gibson

Believed to have been created in San Francisco by businessman Walter D.K. Gibson in the late 1800s. Mr. Gibson thought that eating onions prevented colds.

Traditional Recipe

2.5 oz Gin (or vodka)
.5 oz Dry vermouth

Add both ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice
Stir and train into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with cocktail onion

 

Non-traditional Recipe — We’ll call it, the dirty Gibson (the way I like it)

2.5 oz Gin (or Vodka)
Dry vermouth rinse
Cocktail onion juice, to taste… say 2 bar spoons
Dash of olive juice (just to make it a bit briny), a dash or two
Garnish with cocktail onion

The Aviation

Ever had one of those days when you’re thirsty for a cocktail but you just don’t know what to order? Well, let’s be honest, I’m thirsty for a cocktail every day, but sometimes I need a little help with my decision-making process. 

One of the many things I love about Blind Lady Tavern is that, no matter who is behind the stick, you’re always going to get a great cocktail. Seth Laufman has assembled a talented team of bartenders, and, he’s not so bad himself. Originally from Athens, Ohio, Seth made his way back to Ohio after spending time in California. He bought the old Jury Room on Mound Street in downtown Columbus and turned it into a fabulous craft cocktail bar. I should also mention that their food is out of this world. Another thing I love about this bar is that you don’t even need to order a specific drink to get a great cocktail. 

This is how it played out one evening…

Seth: what are you drinking? 

Me: I don’t know, I just don’t want anything too sweet. 

Seth: you want a citrus forward drink? 

Me: yea, citrus forward. 

A few minutes later...

Seth: here you go, cheers! 

Me: What is it? 

Seth: An aviation. 

Me (in my head): ugh, I hated the Aviation I had tasted before and found it to be bitter and generally unpleasant. Plus, who wants a bluish/gray cocktail… yuck. 

With no expectation of enjoyment, I took my first sip. I definitely tasted lemon and the maraschino with just a hint of the Crème de Violette. It was a perfectly balanced, citrusy cocktail and the Crème de Violette was not overpowering. I was happy, very happy! I enjoyed the cocktail so much that I wanted to drink one every night, and practically did. 

The moral of the story? If you’ve tried a cocktail and didn’t like it, give it another shot at a bar with an experienced craft bartender, you may change your mind.

 

The Aviation

This pre-prohibition drink recipe was originally published in 1916 and published again in 1930 omitting the Crème de Violette because it was scarcely available in America.

 2 oz Gin
.5 oz Maraschino liqueur
.25 oz Crème de Violette or Crème Yvette
.75 oz lemon juice

Add all ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a cherry (optional)

Cheers!