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Why Everyone Needs to Try a Smoked Old Fashioned This Holiday Season

Settle back with friends and family and enjoy a Smoked Old Fashioned and a dash of experimentation, if the fancy takes you.

Photo by Bon Vivant on Unsplash

The holiday season is almost upon us – and for many people, a break from the drudgery of work and the many other stresses that have been part and parcel of the past year cannot come soon enough. 2022 has been a year of challenges. For many, the self-isolation regulations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have been disruptive, to say the least. 

Rising prices and inflation have both negatively impacted savings and the cost of living, including household budgets. Of course, there is always nuclear war at the back of everyone’s mind. 

But be of good cheer, the holiday season is a time of joy – and for many that joy includes the pleasures of a whiskey cocktail – and which version of a classic whiskey cocktail could be better than the Smoked Old Fashioned to keep that wintertime evening chill at bay, or cope with the shorter days of sunlight? 

The Classic Old Fashioned with A Smoky Twist

The classic Old Fashioned has a long and storied history, with the first mention of this classic cocktail appearing in 1862 ‘a ‘Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide: How To Mix Drinks’. Most recipes in the 1800s (and later) simply called for a ‘jigger’ of whiskey to be added to the mix of sugar with Angostura bitter (and a dash of water and a single ice cube). But the Smoked Old Fashioned is something special.

Choosing Your Whiskey

Selecting the right whiskey is important. The home bartender is still going to need those classic ingredients like sugar, and bitters – but the selection of rye or bourbon needs to be made with care. 

The rich and smooth rye or bourbon (you can use either according to preference) needs to stand up to the sweetness of the sugar and the powerful floral aromas and flavor of Angostura Bitters. 

American lovers of whiskey-based cocktails have a preference for the more robust flavors, but the selection of the base spirit only scratches the surface of why the Smoked Old Fashioned is possibly the most perfect holiday cocktail.

The answer to what makes it so special is of course the smoke. It transforms the Old Fashioned into an event. Its preparation is a little bit of theatrics aimed at an appreciative home audience.

The Recipe

The recipe also calls for the addition of citrus in the form of an almost obligatory sliver of orange peel. The reason is that citrus is marvelous at taming otherwise potentially overwhelming flavors (such as those from the Angostura Bitters). 

Many might think that this would dull the flavor of the whiskey and the aromatic nature of the bitters, but the converse is true – it actually enhances them. The addition of a Maraschino cherry is now regarded as an essential part of the Old fashioned. That splash of color brings the drink to an even more vibrant life. But don’t take our word for it, you can follow this smoked old fashioned recipe that comes straight from the horses mouth. 

Smoking the Cocktail

The home bartender is going to have to invest in a cocktail smoking kit (there are numerous versions on the market) or a home smoke infuser. The alternative is one of the widely available versions of liquid smoke – but many purists frown on this approach (and it’s nowhere near the same taste). A cocktail smoker is a wise investment for the aspirant home bartender. 

It allows for the use of a variety of wood chips, each bringing something new to the Smoked Old fashioned experience – perfect for an evening of experimentation. And an infuser can also add some excitement to many other cocktails.

So, this holiday season settle back with friends and family and enjoy a Smoked Old Fashioned and a dash of experimentation, if the fancy takes you. It’s been a hard year – treat yourself.

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