Not too long ago I was sent a fabulous The Naked Grouse Craft Kit that contained everything needed to create the perfect Old Fashioned, which happens to be my favourite cocktail so I was pretty happy to oblige.
Before I get into the detail of the kit and the cocktail making experience, it is worth introducing The Naked Grouse for those who are not familiar:
The Naked Grouse is a premium blended whisky, slow-matured in first fill sherry casks to produce a rich, smooth and sweet whisky with hints of spice, black cherries, dried fruits, vanilla and cocoa. The Naked Grouse tastes great both on its own or in cocktails. - The Naked Grouse
Now, as I mentioned, the Old Fashioned is pretty much the only cocktail I drink out of choice (unless at events or on the suggestion of clients) and it has quite an interesting back story.
The origins are relatively interesting and pretty much elude to the Old Fashioned being the first recorded cocktail, although it was not given the name for about seventy-five years later.
The first documented definition of the word "cocktail" was in response to a reader's letter asking to define the word in the May 6, 1806, issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in Hudson, New York. In the May 13, 1806, issue, the paper's editor wrote that it was a potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar; it was also referred to at the time as a bittered sling.
Wikipedia, that font of secondary knowledge we all know and love, explain the name’s origins:
Traditionally, the first use of the name "Old Fashioned" for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail was said to have been, anachronistically, at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen's club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe was said to have been invented by a bartender at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.
Onto The Naked Grouse Old Fashioned, in The Naked Grouse Craft Kit I received:
- A lovely The Naked Grouse tumbler
- A mini bottle of bitters (The Bitter Truth)
- A 200ml bottle of The Naked Grouse
- A gorgeous barman’s spoon / stirrer
All you need to create The Naked Grouse Old Fashioned aside from ice, which would have been awkward to ship I guess so I can let them off.
So on a sunny evening in July I whipped the box out and got stuck in.
The method for creating an Old Fashioned is rather simple but takes time, patience and a passion for getting it right, as if you try to rush these things it just does not work and you will be pretty gutted, I speak from experience.
First off you need to chill the glass.
I usually whip out the Whisky Stones and get them in there for a few minutes before starting the cocktail creation process.
Then you place in a brown sugar cube in the glass.
Some people and bars use sugar syrup but I always find that the best Old Fashioneds are made by using the sugar cub, doused in about 10ml of whisky, in this case The Naked Grouse, and about five drops of bitters to spice it up a bit.
Now you need to stir nice and slowly and all the while using the flat end of the bar spoon to crush the sugar down, this effectively creates the sugar syrup mentioned above but as it mixes with the whisky and the bitters it creates a more aromatic flavour profile that does not taste too sweet.
Once the sugar has been broken down, shave an orange peel and just pinch it so you get about three drops of zest in the glass. Continue to stir.
Finally, add the bulk of the whisky
You’re going to want to pour in about 50ml more of The Naked Grouse at this point, maybe more if you fancy it (although GreatDrams.com advocates responsible drinking so be wise to your measures).
Now with the orange peel you shaved earlier rub the zest around the rim of the glass, throw it into the glass, raise the glass to your lips and enjoy!