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Old Fashioned Cocktail Neat?

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PeterB Jan 16, 2012 03:02 PM

Booze Hounds, help me out, please. This has happened to me twice in the last couple of months. While out at a bar I have ordered an Old Fashioned. When the drinks were served they were neat. I requested ice and was accommodated, but I have never in my life heard of that. Is this some sort of new thing or just a strange aberration? Both bartenders were quite young. Just to make sure I hadn't missed something I did a Google image search of "old fashioned cocktail" and every image showed ice in the glass. Please advise.

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  1. yarm RE: PeterB Jan 16, 2012 04:07 PM

    The Sazerac is a fancy Old Fashioned served down (stirred with ice, strained into a rocks glasses). However, I have never seen a written recipe for an Old Fashioned that is served without ice (either a single cube, shaved ice, many cubes, etc).

    It also seems like more effort for the bartender to chill a drink by stirring and then strain it into a rocks glass than it is to build it in a glass and add ice. Unless of course these bartenders served it to you unchilled and undiluted. Another possibility is that they muddled the fruit and wanted the flavor but didn't want the fruit bits inside so they strained it (although I have only seen this done once in a "Hot Old Fashioned" served as a Toddy).

    I do know from local bartenders that people will request their Old Fashioneds served down (strained into a rocks glass). And in one instance served up (straining into a cocktail glass). But this isn't standard in any recipe other than the Sazerac and fancier drinks than a basic Old Fashioned.

    http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

    8 Replies
    1. re: yarm
      Monch RE: yarm Jan 16, 2012 09:14 PM

      "Down"....now I have really learned something on CH. Yarm, I genuflect in your general direction!

      MY take on the questions was vastly more simplistic than Yarm's.

      I chalked it up to inexperience and misunderstanding. I was going to bet that the young tender HEARD old-fashioned, but THOUGHT Manhattan...thus built the cocktail for, and served it as, an up drink.

      However, I was taught to muddle the sugar/cherry/orange/bitters, with a dash of wash, in the bottom of the glass in which the bev would be served. Then fill with ice, add the called booze and hit it with the called wash.

      I like "Whiskey Old Fashioned Pres", but "Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet" is the state cocktail, here in Wisconsin.

      All this said, I could NOT conceive any tender trying to muddle in an up/martini glass.

      I agree that building/muddling in one glass, or shaker, and decanting to the up glass to be a pain. If that WAS done, I agree with Yarm...it would have to be strained. Having all those solids floating around would defeat the aesthetic appeal of the up glass.

      My two cents

      1. re: Monch
        h
        hazelhurst RE: Monch Jan 17, 2012 07:40 AM

        When I learned to make (but not consume) them as a child, I did so for my grandmother. It was a standard muddle affair and served on the rocks. But it was also Deep South and she was often on the screen porch. Years later I knew an older woman in Uptown New Orleans who liked hers made according to her specificl formula and I suspect it dated from prohibition days. Muddle everything in the old fashioned glass which has been chilled wither in icebox or with some ice in it. Add your bitters (she preferred Peychaud). Take your whiskey and put it in a cocktail shaker with one BIG piece of ice--hers was culled from blocks made in meatloaf pans. Shake hell out of it (but you didn't need much time) just to put a bead on it, pour into glass and stir a little bit with a silver, not stainless, spoon. It was a cross between Old Fashioned and Sazerac in a way. I still make one once in awhile.

        1. re: hazelhurst
          Monch RE: hazelhurst Jan 17, 2012 08:20 AM

          HH,

          I have some Templeton Rye that has been waiting for a worthy cocktail...I've been enjoying it on the rocks.

          I will try to replicate the Uptown Old Fashioned. I assume that the wash was simply water or seltzer...not soda pop as is used up here behind the Cheddar Curtain in Wisconsin.

          1. re: Monch
            h
            hazelhurst RE: Monch Jan 17, 2012 09:00 AM

            If she had simple syrup then we muddled in that. Otherwise, the old trick of sugar and some water. Ther was also a favored method, once upon a time, of soaking a sugar cube with the bitters, then crushing it. No soda pop, though.

            1. re: hazelhurst
              Monch RE: hazelhurst Jan 17, 2012 09:23 AM

              Gottcha.

              The reason I ask is that my wife's go-to cocktail is "Southern Comfort Old-Fashioned Sweet...with Olives"....love her to death.

              THIS however results in a concoction that she adores but is sticky-sweet to my tastes.

              We were in NOLA between Christmas and New Years and I did an experiment.

              At two bars, Bar Uncommon and Oak Wine Bar, I ordered an Old-Fashioned...no special instructions...I wanted to see what I got...

              The results, to my palate, were smashing. To my WIFE'S palate, the results were "boozy" and not sweet enough.

              Thanks for the feedback.

            2. re: Monch
              h
              hawkeyeui93 RE: Monch Jan 18, 2012 08:41 AM

              Templeton Rye makes a great Manhattan as well ...

              1. re: hawkeyeui93
                Monch RE: hawkeyeui93 Jan 18, 2012 08:44 AM

                THAT I have already tried! I concur.

                I shrink from using it in too many cocktails...it's so DAMN good on the rocks!

                I am lucky to have a steady supply coming over the border from Iowa to Wisconsin.

                (Even have had the privilege of taste-testing the "TR" version of the product!)

                1. re: Monch
                  h
                  hawkeyeui93 RE: Monch Jan 18, 2012 09:15 AM

                  Although I live in North Central Iowa, it is not the easiest bottle to find ... and I agree about it being great "on the rocks" as well.

      2. s
        sanjacinto RE: PeterB Jan 16, 2012 09:57 PM

        Off the top of my head, I can't think of *any* cocktails that are served neat. It seems odd for that to happen once, let alone twice. Was this two different bartenders at the same bar, or at different bars? If it was the same one, it might be worth it to try one more time and, should the same thing happen, ask to find out what exactly is going on there (not in a rude way, but maybe more of a "It's odd; this is the only place I've been to where they serve Old-Fashioneds like this. Is there a story behind that?")

        Also, an Old-Fashioned served up...this I must try for myself, just to see what difference, if any (other than aesthetic) it makes....

        8 Replies
        1. re: sanjacinto
          n
          ncyankee101 RE: sanjacinto Jan 16, 2012 10:23 PM

          I can think of one cocktail served neat - Evergreen Dan's "Bernet Frankenstein" - but i doubt it is well-known outside of Chowhound and Dan's site (I've made it and it is quite interesting.)

          http://www.kindredcocktails.com/cockt...

          1. re: sanjacinto
            yarm RE: sanjacinto Jan 17, 2012 06:49 AM

            There is a whole class of room temperature cocktails out there, many of which are undiluted. The heat of spirits is either balanced by sugar content from liqueurs, low proof spirits like aperitif wines and sherries, etc. Some are 19th century or before and some are created currently. This would be the closest thing to neat, but I also assume that neat could have been a slang term for poured into a rocks glass.

            There are a few Old Fashioned-like drinks served stirred with ice and strained into a rocks glass. Here are two popular ones around here, but they are a lot less known that the standard Old Fashioned:
            • Sazerac (rye Old Fashioned with Peychaud's bitters as the bitters, in a glass rinsed with absinthe, lemon twist)
            • Toronto (rye Old Fashioned with Fernet Branca+Angostura as the bitters)

            http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

            1. re: yarm
              davis_sq_pro RE: yarm Jan 17, 2012 07:03 AM

              Yarm, I recall that there's actually a name for the room temp cocktails (beyond simply "room temperature cocktails" -- I think I learned it in the TDN chat). Do you happen to know what it is? I'm having trouble finding it via Google and would like to refresh my memory.

              1. re: davis_sq_pro
                n
                nickls RE: davis_sq_pro Jan 17, 2012 09:36 AM

                Not Yarm, but I did happen to recall that this type of drink is called a Scaffa.

                1. re: nickls
                  davis_sq_pro RE: nickls Jan 17, 2012 09:39 AM

                  You've done a fine job as a substitute Yarm. Thanks!

                2. re: davis_sq_pro
                  yarm RE: davis_sq_pro Jan 17, 2012 10:25 AM

                  Scaffa is only one type of room temperature cocktail. Some associate these with stirred but not chilled, others count them as layered drinks. Liquor, liqueur, syrups, and bitters.

                  There are Pousse-cafés that are layered. Same liquor, liqueur, syrups, and bitters, save for the Knickebein and other ones that contain an unbroken egg yolk.

                  I have had one room temperature Sour that appears in the Old Waldorf-Astoria Cocktail Book (the Pequot Sour) that had no chilling but it did have water for dilution.

                  There are also room temperature Slings, Punches, and Cocktails (most likely the first cocktails cerca 1800 lacked ice). So basically, it is more than just Scaffas. Scaffas just happen to be one of my favorite classes for regular consumption (Knickebeins for every once in a while, I need something strange consumption).

                  1. re: yarm
                    davis_sq_pro RE: yarm Jan 17, 2012 10:30 AM

                    What's the point of stirring if there's no ice? Wouldn't a simple swirl in the glass be sufficient?

                    The Knickebein sounds cool and would be a great test of one's layering skills. (My own are virtually non-existent -- I'll stick with the scaffas.)

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                      yarm RE: davis_sq_pro Jan 17, 2012 10:52 AM

                      It's hard to swirl in a coupe or cocktail glass. Perhaps in a rocks glass. It does take a bit of effort to get different viscosity liquids to mix perfectly (liqueurs and syrups will sit on the bottom, spirits on the top); partial mixing will result in a messy Pousse-café gradient. Stirring with a spoon for a 5 count is usually plenty.

                      Layering drinks isn't that hard if you pour from a small vessel (like a 2 oz Oxo mixing cup) onto the back of a spoon (with the spoon's edge touching the side of the glass). Using the non-bowl end of the spoon (the handle) will work too if you drizzle the liquid down the curled shaft and put the end touching the glass. There are spoons like the Bonzer brand that have a disk at the end to make the layering in tall, narrow glasses easier. I believe there is a review of the Bonzer on the Cocktailvirgin site for this purpose (under *bar tools).

            2. p
              PeterB RE: PeterB Jan 17, 2012 06:41 AM

              Thanks for the feedback. Sounds like most agree that a proper Old Fashioned is served on the rocks. The Sazerac is an excellent cocktail that should be served strained (up, neat, down-in any case, no ice cubes in the glass). I was just wondering if some new cocktail guru had bartenders serving Old Fashioneds that way. I guess I'll start specifying "on the rocks" when ordering them, although that shouldn't be necessary.

              7 Replies
              1. re: PeterB
                EvergreenDan RE: PeterB Jan 17, 2012 09:01 AM

                Peter -- I suspect there is some miscommunication here on CH with your use of the term neat.

                Neat refers to an room-temperature beverage served without ice. Did you really mean that your old-fashioned was served room temp? This would be truly odd. I can imagine it being served down (chilled, strained, rocks glass, no ice -- Sazerac style), although that would be only somewhat less odd.

                Maybe I'll order my next cocktail "neat up" and see if I really get a room temp drink in a stemmed glass. Or maybe swizzled up (crushed ice swizzled in a stemmed cocktail glass). Oh wait, swizzled rolled up (crushed ice poured back and forth between two cocktail glasses).

                On second thought, I get in enough trouble without looking for it ;)

                --
                www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                1. re: EvergreenDan
                  Monch RE: EvergreenDan Jan 17, 2012 09:24 AM

                  +1 on the clarification of terms.

                  1. re: Monch
                    Monch RE: Monch Jan 17, 2012 09:25 AM

                    BTW, I once had a "brain fart" and ordered my martini "neat" instead of "up".

                    The attentive bartender took a beat and served me a small tumbler of gin with vermouth.

                    "Be careful what you ask for...you may receive it!"

                    1. re: Monch
                      i
                      INDIANRIVERFL RE: Monch Jan 17, 2012 09:33 AM

                      Ordered a steak raw, as opposed to rare. Being about 13 at the time, old pig head ate it that way.

                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                        Monch RE: INDIANRIVERFL Jan 17, 2012 09:39 AM

                        Drank my room-temperature "martini", paid, and quietly went to the table.

                        Have NOT repeated this error.

                        Indian River, I laughed out loud...we're kindred sprits.

                        1. re: Monch
                          yarm RE: Monch Jan 17, 2012 10:28 AM

                          A dry vermouth Martini room temperature is a vicious, stinging beast. One made with sweet vermouth can be decent when it warms up such as Audrey Saunder's Fifty-Fifty (equal parts gin and sweet vermouth, I believe with Orange Bitters).

                          http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                  2. re: EvergreenDan
                    p
                    PeterB RE: EvergreenDan Jan 17, 2012 03:34 PM

                    Yes, I realize the error of my nomenclature. That was actually the term the bartender used who served me the iceless Old Fashioned. Both of the cocktails I experienced were served down. In any case it seems to be very nonstandard to me. I just think the Old Fashioned already had enough permutations (muddled fruit, soda water, etc.) and didn't need any additional ones. At the end of the day, I still expect an Old Fashioned to come in a proper glass (an Old Fashioned glass) on the rocks with orange peel and a maraschino cherry. Muddled fruit is optional and not in the ones I make.

                2. p
                  PeterB RE: PeterB Jan 17, 2012 03:48 PM

                  I think I found the culprit: Jamie Boudreau, purportedly "The World's Best Bartender". Whatever.

                  http://spiritsandcocktails.wordpress....

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: PeterB
                    yarm RE: PeterB Jan 17, 2012 05:33 PM

                    If your average hack bartender was a disciple of Boudreau, the world would not be a bad place. Actually, if your average hack bartender did reading of any sort about the trade, the world would be a better place. Often, they are trained by the person who had been there the longest and hadn't left to find a better job and whatever they were mistaught or not taught remains uncorrected.

                    His explanation mentions the historical lack of ice. And does talk about using a large ice cube, but for the OF variation he presents (not the historical one), he does indeed stir with ice and strain.

                    1. re: PeterB
                      JMF RE: PeterB Jan 20, 2012 10:17 AM

                      Jamie is an excellent and knowledgeable bartender with a great background of researching and implementation. I have had his cocktails and hung out talking cocktails.

                    2. ellaystingray RE: PeterB Jan 18, 2012 12:57 PM

                      This is fascinating. As usual, when I jump in, it's rarely for just a quick note. I think this a truly interesting "anthromixological" discussion.

                      There are so many variants of the "Old Fashioned," some cocktail books don't even capialize it when referring to the cocktail family tree. As noted by Jamie (Boudreau that is) it appears this drink was probably "invented" before ice was popular--but then it was just called a cocktail, not an Old Fashioned. I suspect by the time it was "old fashioned" to drink a mix of sugar, bitters, water (maybe bubbling) and brown goods, I think the drink was usually made with ice. It surely was by the 30's where it appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book though we can see from Wondrich's notes on Jerry Thomas and ice in Imbibe, ice was "available" in the mid-1880's with only increasing frequency to follow. So even if this drink was originally served neat (as something probably called a cocktail), it was probably a result of the the circumstances and not necessarily the highest and best service possibilities. Even if you accept that tastes change and we may all be in love with ice for no good reason (other than its properties that help keep many thing from spoiling), it isn't ALWAYS best to go back to the way things were originally done.

                      Now, things get a little messy in the middle here and too be sure, I've glossed over a ton of information in regard to dates and such and when exactly things happened and the evolution of cocktails and bars and drinks and ice. But I think it is safe to say that since the end of prohibition, Old Fashioned's have been made with ice. It probably isn't a stretch to say they have been since the turn of the century. Earlier than that likely depended on what bar you were in an how much money you had to pay for a drink but ice may have ended up in this guy as early as the 1860's. We know that ice was beginning to be shipped around the world in the early 1800's and though that certainly doesn't mean it was all over the place, the timeline's could be accurate within 20-30 years. Yeah, I am leaving a wide birth here. Did you want this to go on for 8000 words?

                      I am not sure where soda comes in at first (I only have so much time today:)) or which decade decided cherries and/or oranges were appropriate and what happens to lemon peel when but the addition of ice, as far as I am concerned, happened long enough ago to be beyond the statute of limiations. Anybody serving down Old Fashioneds, regardless of your opinons of the other ingredients, should be telling you this is their variant. There is a long history of such and nothing to be ashamed of if your drink is good. But, if someone is out there claiming this is "original"....well I actually think it is better nearly every time in a tumbler filled to the brim with ice.

                      And yes, I don't mind a muddled orange in mine and almost aways prefer sparkling water. I can do without the cherry. Cheers.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: ellaystingray
                        p
                        PeterB RE: ellaystingray Jan 18, 2012 03:51 PM

                        I'm glad so many people replied with so many opinions. Also, I'm sure Jamie Boudreau really knows his stuff. it was just during decades of watching adults drinking them and subsequently drinking them myself they had *always* been served on the rocks. Then to get served Old Fashioneds iceless twice in a 2 month period I thought there was some new movement toward that way of serving them. It appears that it is not a general trend but something i may run into again if there are disciples of Jamie mixing. Now I'll probably get funny looks when I ask for them on the rocks.

                        1. re: PeterB
                          Monch RE: PeterB Jan 18, 2012 05:26 PM

                          Dude, come to Wisconsin and order one!

                          Given my travels, you'll be in the geographical...if not historical...center of the Old Fashioned universe.

                          Cross-reference to the Madison supper club thread for my wife's "best Old Fashioned ever" location.

                          1. re: Monch
                            yarm RE: Monch Jan 18, 2012 05:32 PM

                            A brandy one topped with Sprite and garnished with a pickled mushroom? That might give PeterB fodder for his next post here... but at least it will most likely contain ice.

                            1. re: yarm
                              p
                              PeterB RE: yarm Jan 19, 2012 05:07 AM

                              I don't believe that every cocktail should be served on the rocks. I do believe that Old Fashioneds should, though.

                              1. re: PeterB
                                r
                                rossss RE: PeterB Jan 24, 2012 04:36 PM

                                Cocktail history is a fickle thing, so it's tough to ever speculate on there being a definitive truth here. In Boston, the best cocktail bars will serve a neat Old Fashioned -- it's a bit more elegant drink when stirred and strained, then garnished with orange peel or oil. The ice waters down the drink, which some may prefer (esp. if they want soda water too). If a customer wanted ice, I might try to talk them into a large cube rather than many small. Eastern Standard referred to it as a 19th Century (http://www.fourpoundsflour.com/wp-con...

                                )

                                The wikipedia entry lays it out accurately, suggesting ice and fruit are modifications:
                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Fash...

                                However, to avoid strange looks, you can just order a "muddled old fashioned" which should always come on the rocks. Otherwise, muddled fruit floating in liquid ain't pretty!

                        2. re: ellaystingray
                          JMF RE: ellaystingray Jan 20, 2012 10:35 AM

                          The muddled cherries and orange became popular in the mid 20th century. I was just talking about this with Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh over dinner a few nights ago. Up until around 1960 most of the recipes in books did not mention any fruit or garnish except for possibly a small piece of lemon peel or more rarely, orange peel muddled with the sugar, or just squeezed over the top of the drink.

                          As for ice, Tudor made ice big starting in 1836 with his first ship taking ice to the caribbean. By 1947 he was shipping all over the US to at least 28 major cities. By the time of his death in 1864 there were hundreds of companies selling ice all over the country and world. So it is safe to assume that by 1850-1860 if you ordered a cocktail, ice would have been used.

                          Since the Old Fashioned came to be called that in the 1880's, it always had ice. But since it was in many ways the first cocktail, you would have gotten something that was basically what came to be called the Old Fashioned, way before ice became universal.

                          1. re: JMF
                            ellaystingray RE: JMF Jan 20, 2012 03:16 PM

                            Thank for filling in my gaps and going it much more concisely than I could have.

                            Cheers.

                        3. k
                          Klunco RE: PeterB Feb 15, 2012 08:23 AM

                          What are your thoughts on building the drink in one glass with chipped ice, stirring, and then straining into a new glass with larger pieces of ice? Have you encountered any bars that do this or do most add ice stir, and then top with ice?

                          I've been doing this recently at home and really enjoying the results. Once the drink is sufficiently cold and diluted it stays that way without getting watered down by remaining shards of ice. Anyone else?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Klunco
                            JMF RE: Klunco Feb 15, 2012 05:28 PM

                            Some fine cocktail bars build the old fashioned in the mixing glass, stir on ice and strain into an old fashoned glass over a very large ice cube or ball.

                            1. re: Klunco
                              p
                              PeterB RE: Klunco Feb 16, 2012 10:40 AM

                              I think this method by Robert Hess is as good as any

                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrZOk0...

                              Again, the whole thing of serving them minus ice is very new. We'll see if it persists or is just a passing fad.

                              Cheers!

                            2. j
                              janbrady RE: PeterB Feb 15, 2012 05:43 PM

                              I recently was asked, at one of these newfangled bars in NYC that specializes in old-fashioned drinks (no pun intended), whether I wanted my Old-Fashioned up or rocks. Having never had one up, I asked if that was the traditional way. The bartender noted that neither way was "correct," but it was just a matter of preference. Still, I have never seen or been offered an O-F up before or since.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: janbrady
                                JMF RE: janbrady Feb 16, 2012 02:26 PM

                                Which bar? And can you describe the bartender?

                                1. re: JMF
                                  EvergreenDan RE: JMF Feb 17, 2012 04:30 AM

                                  JMF- Hit men are cheaper in Newerk. I know you're pinching pennies for your distillery.

                              2. yarm RE: PeterB Feb 20, 2012 11:11 AM

                                According to the curmudgeonly http://oldfashioned101.com/ site:

                                Step 5 - optional: Add ice.

                                Ice is completely optional. Many prefer it. Ideal is a single large ice cube that just fits within and mostly fills the glass. A chunk of hand-carved ice is the epitome of elegance. And yet, any clean-tasting ice cubes will do (the colder the better).

                                http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                                1. p
                                  PeterB RE: PeterB Jun 9, 2014 03:18 PM

                                  I don't know if anyone is still paying attention, but this iceless Old Fashioned thing seems to have run its course. I must have been a 2012 thing. Cheers, PeterB

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: PeterB
                                    Monch RE: PeterB Jun 9, 2014 06:00 PM

                                    Back attcha, Peter.

                                    It was fun re-reading this!

                                    1. re: PeterB
                                      JMF RE: PeterB Jun 9, 2014 06:24 PM

                                      Actually that isn't so. I have quite a few bars that I work with serving old fashioned variations without ice. The latest is one of the most prestigious private members clubs in the world's new cocktail bar in NYC.

                                      The old fashioned glasses are chilled down to -10F to -22F, the drink is stirred in a cocktail glass chilled to the same temp., on ice that is at that temp., then the Old Fashioned is strained into it.

                                      Very similar to the Sazerac, but with some of my modern takes on Old Fashioneds, which I call "New Old Fashioneds"... ;-)>

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