Why You Should Never Shake An Old Fashioned Cocktail

Old fashioned with orange peel on black coaster
Old fashioned with orange peel on black coaster - Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock

There are so many new cocktail options these days, and it's easy to get caught up in the variety. While it's fun to try something new and embrace the creativity of modern cocktail professionals, there's something about the classics that is hard to beat.

It's often said that simplicity is the hallmark of a classic and contributes to its staying power. With that in mind, it's no surprise that a standard old fashioned continues to endure. But when something is so simple, there is little to conceal mistakes or mishandling. When it comes to making an old fashioned, there are a few cardinal rules one must follow, and one in particular can make or break your cocktail experience. So while James Bond can debate the preparation for his martini all day, when it comes to your old fashioned, under no circumstances should you shake it.

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A History Of Simplicity

Old fashioned on wood board
Old fashioned on wood board - Chris Gora/Getty Images

While shaking is a good go-to step for drinks that feature citrus or cream, drinks like this one, which is spirit-forward, will only become overly diluted and aerated (meaning small bubbles will form) if subjected to such intense agitation. This is often referred to as bruising the whiskey, and it can impact the taste of your cocktail. If you want that smooth-as-silk experience, all it needs is a gentle stir.

The old fashioned isn't just any classic cocktail; it is considered by some to be the original cocktail thanks to its combination of alcohol, bitters, sugar for balance, and water for dilution. This blueprint can be traced back to the 18th century, but modern iterations of those beverages continue to be embraced.

This cocktail has a few simple ingredients: Whiskey or bourbon, a simple sugar syrup, and bitters. Again, because of the simplicity, you lack any sort of smoke and mirrors to hide low-quality ingredients. The whiskey is the star of the show, so take care to select something you'd be just as likely to drink straight. While many bitters brands have emerged, particularly in recent years with the boom in cocktail culture, the canonical recipe applies Angostura aromatic bitters. Its called-for volume (just a few dashes) may not seem like much, but these drops are packed with flavor from spices and botanicals, contributing to the flavor profile. At the same time, a relatively neutral simple syrup brings body and balance thanks to a touch of sweetness.

Making Your Old Fashioned Your Own

Smoked old fashioned on black background
Smoked old fashioned on black background - Vadym Ivanov/Shutterstock

Like many simple formulas, this foundation of bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters offers surprising opportunities for creativity. And given its lengthy history, there has been plenty of time for people to do precisely that.

Some spins are as simple as swapping out the base spirit for a slightly spicier rye, tequila, or mezcal for an Oaxacan take or even an herbaceous and unique variation with gin. Utilize the array of bitters available on the market, where selections include everything from orange to chocolate to celery and so much more.

Traditionally, an orange peel garnishes an old fashioned, but you can also opt for lemon, and a brandied cherry is also welcome (as long as it's not muddled). You can even rely on some outside equipment and get creative with a smoked old-fashioned, or if you can get your hands on a small barrel, make a batch to age in oak. As long as you never shake and always stir your old fashioned, you can rarely go wrong.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.