First: there is no One True Recipe. There are probably dozens claiming to have the One True Recipe, but they are wrong. As with most folks who offer you the One True (anything), be skeptical of anyone promoting The One True Old Fashioned.
I’m going to give you a stripped down starting point, where you go with it is up to you. More on that in the next post.
Bourbon (or Rye) Whiskey
Whatever you have on hand that you like, don’t go with rotgut, nor with very high-end expensive stuff. If you really want a suggestion, I find it hard to go wrong with Bulleit, bourbon or rye.
The ubiquitous Angostura bitters work great, I suggest starting with that- you can find them readily almost anywhere.
Plain white sugar works fine, but if you have a more rustic or raw sugar, try that for a more complex flavor. Loose, or cubes.
If you have an old fashioned or “rocks” glass, use that, otherwise, anything in the 6-10 oz. range is OK. Really. Lacking that, any vessel capable of holding more than 6-10 oz. is fine, just ignore how empty the glass looks.
Oooh, high tech.
Nice to have but not needed equipment:
A muddler is a stick you use to mash stuff. Muddling is indispensible for making many drinks, but you don’t need a thing called a muddler to do it. The back end of a wooden spoon or other kitchen utensil works fine. (I used the back end of wood-handled grill tools for many years before blowing $4 on a proper muddler).
And now, the drink:
Put two teaspoons of sugar (or two cubes) in the glass.
Add a couple of dashes of bitters and a couple of drops of water to the sugar and muddle into slush (no alcohol yet, it doesn’t really help dissolve the sugar).
Measure two ounces (four tablespoons if you don’t have an ounce measure) of bourbon/rye.
Add a splash of the bourbon or rye to the glass, continue muddling until smoother.
Add the rest of the bourbon/rye and stir until most of the sugar is fully incorporated (it doesn’t have to be complete, just mostly dissolved).
Add ice, stir well until thoroughly chilled. Then stir more until it really is thoroughly chilled.
How’s that taste? Perfect? Cool. Not quite perfect, don’t fret:
Too sweet? Add another dash or two of bitters. Too sharp? Add a little more sugar.
And that’s it. In my next post we’ll start building on this foundation and see what we can do to make your old fashioned really yours, and then we’ll head off into the cocktail wilderness.