The past century and half has seen empires rise and fall, technologies change the face of the globe, and the very limits of the known universe expand. Yet despite all of this, the classic Old Fashioned has endured largely unaltered.
The Old Fashioned is such a classic that it’s an easy and common fallback for even the most dedicated cocktail aficionado when in an unfamiliar setting. There is something about the consistency, as well as the alluring and familiar nature of the dark red cherry, that makes it the cocktail equivalent of comfort food.
At the heart of what has made the Old Fashioned a classic is the key to its future. The potency of the formula that is the very essence of what turns whiskey into an Old Fashioned is simple yet at the same time pure alchemy: sugar, bitters, a robust stir, and the right garnish. It is this essence that gives the Old Fashioned eternal life.
That combination will have the same alchemical effect on just about any spirit, serving as the shoulders on which adventurous mixologists and ambitious amateurs stand to experiment. The Old Fashioned is Schrodinger’s cocktail: it gets reverence as a classic and at the same time as a Renaissance cocktail that is open to anything.
Dedicated Follower of Fashioneds
Craft bitters companies, simple syrups of all sorts, and a profusion of quality spirits makes for an infinite number of combinations - to wit: brown sugar, tequila, and chocolate bitters, or elderberry syrup, gin, and grapefruit bitters are just two combinations on the spectrum of options at craft cocktail bars across the country.
The Coloradiant is an Old Fashioned that is both here and there, and old and new. It is a combination of the classic elements, namely whiskey, bitters, and sugar, yet it is also a result of the modern world’s fixation with freshness.
The Uncompahgre Valley (and Colorado generally) is a land of contrasts: wild, cultivated, desert, and Alpine all at once. A land of plenty, yet with finite resources. The inspiration for the Coloradiant was to tap into the vastness of that local potential with the bitters and honey being layered so as to not steal the show, but instead to showcase how dynamic whiskey can be.
Made in the Valley
To truly enjoy a taste of the Uncompahgre Valley, make this with Storm King’s Sidegig whiskey or KJ Wood’s Ourye whiskey. The former is made with a blend of five Colorado-grown grains and has a dynamic balance that comes through in the final product while the latter is a 100 percent rye mash that is robust and dry and lends a sharpness to the cocktail. The sugar component in this variation is honey, locally sourced of course (there are lots of honey producers in the area including from various orchards that each offer a slightly different profile); while the bitters are the most local thing, being an extract of a dozen locally grown and foraged plants. Some are so-called “nuisance” plants and feral friends, like Russian olive bringing the bitterness. There are wild gathered black currants and rose petals to add some vibrance, while cultivated lovage and dill are there for a vegetal backdrop that make the drink earthy and raw.
Tradition dictates the garnish be citrus and cherry, but aromatics and dessert are most certainly the implication. In this case, black currants and a couple of featured herbs stand in.
2 ozs Stormking Sidegig Whiskey or KJ Wood’s Ourye whiskey
1 bar spoon of honey syrup
2 dashes of bitters
Stir in a mixing glass and pour over a large ice cube and garnish with blackcurrants and aromatic herbs
About the Author & Mixologist
Nickolas is a lover of flavor, both classic and cutting edge. He embraces the classic cocktail canon, while working to make all ingredients in house, with local and obscure ingredients alike. Outside of the spirit world, he is a family man, farmer and poet.