The old fashioned and I have quite a history. In fact, I lost a job because of this drink…
Whiskey forward; that is probably the way that most people would describe a typical old fashioned. I agree and in the beginning I didn’t appreciate the intricacies that could be created in this whiskey forward drink. I have now come to love this drink and have over time shaped my own style of making it; of course, involving essential oils.
I had my first old fashioned while visiting a speakeasy created by the owner of one of my favorite Indian restaurants. The ambiance was fantastic and just called for having one of the many old fashioned drinks on their menu. Wow! It was strong! I cannot say that initially I was a fan, it was a man’s drink, and I had been drinking a lot more cocktails with frills. Eventually, I made it to the bottom of the glass (it was still alcohol after all, and we don’t waste alcohol!) and felt quite accomplished. I quickly went back to my "vodka crans" for quite a while.
When I was in bartending school, we learned a lot of club style drinks; the old fashioned was not one that we emphasized or practiced. I mistook this lack of emphasis as a directive that the drink was not important to know, not that it was just one of the many drinks that people would want that we didn’t have time to focus on. I learned hundreds of drinks and became very well versed in making them, but I never learned the old fashioned. After some time of bartending, I decided I wanted to get a job in a new hotel that was recently constructed. I went, got through two tiers of interviews and everything was looking good; then, they started with cocktail quizzes. The first cocktail – the old fashioned. I stumbled my way through unconvincingly and soon learned that in their clients demographic it was one of the most popular drinks ordered and they were only looking for people who were experienced at making it.
Having lost their confidence after missing my first cocktail I ended up not getting the job. This was enough to fuel a weekend of learning and experimentation, by the end of the weekend (and a bottle of bourbon later) I had discovered the perfect old fashioned.
Many months later, I was making an old fashioned for a photo shoot and we happened to have lavender bitters on hand. I hadn’t ever thought to use lavender in an old fashioned, but I have found that the best bitters drinks are accomplished by throwing in two to three different kinds to add a depth to the flavor profile. After tasting the drink, I realized that a lavender old fashioned was absolutely delicious!
A word of caution though, the lavender should be an undertone! I found that in making the transition to using essential oils, that it was really easy to add too much lavender. One drop is plenty for this drink to have a nice floral undertone that doesn’t overstate the bourbon or the citrus. I also found that adding a little splash of the cherry juice (or muddling a cherry) adds a completeness to the flavor.
LAVENDER & WILD ORANGE OLD FASHIONED
1 ½ oz bourbon
1 drop lavender essential oil*
4 drops wild orange essential oil*
3-4 dashes bitters
1 sugar cube
2 Tbsp water
1 ice sphere or cube
Add lavender essential oil, wild orange essential oil, and bitters to the sugar cube and muddle with water in rocks glass (this is where I also add the optional cherry juice). Add the bourbon and stir gently until incorporated. Place the ice cube or sphere in the rocks glass and garnish with a cherry and orange peel.
It is a very simple drink to make, but very delicious when done properly.
*You do not have to use DoTERRA essential oils but if you use essential oils make sure they are food grade and safe for internal consumption.