Friday night cocktail: Canadian Whisky Old Fashioned

Although I’m not exclusively a cocktail writer, I do sometimes write about cocktails. So it was inevitable that, sooner or later, I would write about the Old Fashioned, as so many others have done. The Old Fashioned comes from a time when “Cock-Tail” meant something specific, before “cocktail” expanded to encompass any mixed drink. (“Martini” seems to be undergoing the same semantic extension today.)

Any cook will tell you that, when you’re working with a simple recipe, when there’s nothing to hide behind, top-notch ingredients and careful technique are vital. While you may not want to use your very best sipping spirits here (though doing so bears its own rewards!), this also isn’t a drink where you should make a point of seeking “value.” Especially when the other ingredients are so cost-effective.

The Old Fashioned is prime territory for experimenting with different types of spirits, bitters and syrups. You can make an interesting rendition with any category of spirit, but whisky and rum are my favourites. It’s a great showcase for underappreciated, understated Canadian whisky.

How to make a Canadian Whisky Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz. Canadian whisky (Alberta Premium 25 Year pictured)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons simple syrup (yes, if you want an even-more-Canadian take, you can use maple syrup)

Place all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir for a slow count of 20. Strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass, or a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry, or an orange or lemon twist, or nothing at all.

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