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Old Fashioned: Muddled Fruit or Garnish?

Title says it all. I know there's a million ways to make an old fashioned. Many would say no fruit at all. Which do you prefer?

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  1. No muddling. Cherry garnish.

    1. No muddled fruit. I did do an orange twist last time. I don't do a cherry unless someone asks. I got some of those Luxardo cherries for just such requests. They seem nice enough.

      1. Another vote for no muddling. The tiny bit of juice that would be released by muddling a slice adds nothing but a bit of sweetness, and the pulp makes the drink a mess. An orange twist definitely adds a nice aroma, but even that is nonessential in my opinion.

        I highly recommend reading the following article by Robert Hess: http://www.drinkboy.com/Articles/Arti...

        3 Replies
        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          I'm surprised that Mr. Hess is in the pro-muddling camp, or at least that he advises it lends "interesting and useful flavor notes."

          Personally, I like the flavor you get from the orange peel's oils getting muddled out into the drink. I don't think you get that same effect from an orange twist, since that offers a nice aroma but doesn't really get incorporated into the flavor.

          Then again, I have something of an extreme love of orange peels, so maybe I'm not the best guy to ask.

          1. re: A_Gonzalez

            Actually Robert isn't in the pro-muddling camp. I've had a few old fashioned's with him, and with Doc as well, and they are both purists.


            1. re: JMF

              Ah, but he does advocate squeezing the orange oils into the drink before adding whiskey, as he also does on the Old Fashioned episode of The Cocktail Spirit.

              So whether muddled or not, I get the impression that those "interesting and useful flavor notes" are at work here. So I guess I should phrase it differently: I'm surprised that Mr. Hess, in all the media I've seen him produce, is one of the only folks I've seen use the orange peel/oil as an ingredient in the drink rather than just a garnish to squeeze on top.

        2. Garnish only. Muddling an orange slice into the drink has two problems. First, it introduces the bitter flavors of the pith to the drink, and second, it's ugly as hell.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            I don't mind the pith notes. I do mind the bits of fruit clogging up the small straws they give you.

            I'm definitely a "hold the salad" type of guy with the only fruit I prefer being a lemon and/or orange twist. And no soda water top please!


          2. No muddling, no fruit, maybe a lemon or orange twist to garnish but prefer no garnish. Just spirit, sugar, ice, bitters.

            1. muddled fruit tastes good, but it isnt really an old fashioned. good though.
              as far as old fashioneds go, i like it with an orange twist.

              2 Replies
              1. re: charles_sills

                i prefer without fruit.

                yarn posted this link in a thread i made a while back. lots of good info here.

                Old Fashioned

                1 smallish sugar cube (or 1/2 to 1 tsp sugar, to taste) OR 1-2 tsp gomme syrup
                2 dashes Angostura or Fee’s Old-Fashioned Aromatic Bitters
                a few drops of water
                2 ounces bourbon or rye (or 3–what the hell)
                strip of orange or lemon peel

                Place the sugar in an Old Fashioned glass, moisten with the water and bitters then muddle until dissolved (chuck the fruit peel in, if you like–I don’t). Add the whiskey, give it a quick stir, then add a big chunk of ice or two and stir again. Hit it.


                1. re: pete k

                  I'm pretty much on board with everyone. Here's how I have been making them. I may be putting too much sugar though...

                  1 and 1/2 cubes of sugar (CH brand not sure of mass, will weigh on my coffee scale)
                  3 dashes angostura bitters
                  2 dashes fee orange bitters
                  Enough water to dissolve
                  2 oz spirit (usually bourbon or rye but been digging lairds bonded lately)
                  One large ice cube

              2. muddled, definitely, and it most certainly IS an Old-Fashioned.

                1. I muddle a smallish strip of orange zest with the cube and bitters (orange plus aromatic of some type). No soda. House-made brandied cherry garnish on occasion.

                  1. I like to muddle a cherry and orange with the sugar, and then strain it back out of the completed drink. Garnish with orange slice and whole cherry. I love the flavor of the muddled fruit, but it's just sloppy and hard to drink if it's left in there. Definitely no soda!

                    1. No muddling. Strip of orange peel garnish. Make sure to "twist" the peel over the drink before serving to express the orange oils.

                      No soda water.

                      I also follow Hess's advice and use simple syrup (which I always have around) instead of muddling the sugar cube. I find a scant 1/4 oz. of simple syrup works great, mixes easier, is quicker, and doesn't result in small bits of unblended sugar "grit" in my drink.

                      1. I'd opt for a cherry that has a stem, garnishing a small amount of water with sugar, bitters, and plenty of bourbon or rye. The simple syrup sounds nice. Not a traditional Oboe Fox (Oscar Foxtrot to the younger generation), but I also like a variant made with turbinado sugar. Also, for a lighter taste in the summer, I sometimes substitute Peychauds for Angostura. BTW, it is getting harder lately to find Angostura bitters. Fortunately, I am just fine plunking a cherry into a bourbon on the rocks, just for appearances (or in a pinch, like if its RVW, no rocks, just to confound the mixologists).

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: tim irvine

                          Really? A new Angostura shortage? No problems in the DC region, but I have no idea about regional availability elsewhere.

                          1. re: The Big Crunch

                            In my corner of Austin there have been times of late when neither my grocery store nor nearby liquor stores had it. Thankfully, at least for now, it's back, but prices are seeming higher. That pesky supply and demand.

                          2. re: tim irvine

                            i sure hope we dont get a shortage here in canton, ohio. because angustora is the ONLY bitters that i can find.

                          3. I do like bringing in other flavors to an Old Fashioned. I do so by replacing the sugar / simple syrup with some other type of syrup. Any fruit, or herb/spice syrup works well.

                            I'm putting a Quince Old Fashioned on one of my bar menus for the Holidays. Just a Bourbon Old Fashioned sweetened with house made Quince syrup made by simmering chopped quince with sugar and water for 3-4 hours, then straining. The Martha Stewart recipe works pretty good.

                            (Actually my recipe is a bit more complicated. I run the cooked quince through a food processor, add more sugar and water to taste, simmer for 45 minutes more, then let cool and run through a centrifuge. This clarifies it and separates out the pulp for another use. Then I hot process the syrup to make shelf stable for storage.)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: JMF

                              How do you keep it from gelling? Your process is almost identical to how I make a very firm quince jelly -- minus the centrifuge. I just use cheesecloth. Maybe you're using a lot more water than I do?

                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                Sure, more water, it's a syrup... Also the fruit doesn't fall apart when cooked in chunks.

                                1. re: JMF

                                  I actually want the fruit to fall apart when I make jelly, in order to extract as much juice as possible. That stuff is pretty tough to work with.

                                  Tangential: I'd love to try a quince eau de vie sometime. I wonder if any are made commercially? (Google has not been helpful in this regard.)

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    The eau-de-vie you seek is called "Coing" in French. I have drunk it in France, so at least some one of the Alsatian distillers markets it. I don't remember which -- Massenez or Miclo would probably be good bets, as they have pretty wide product range and distribution. Don't know if anyone imports Coing into the USA, but you shouldn't have any problem finding it in France.

                                    1. re: johncb

                                      Thanks for the tip! A quick Google search and I already found a helpful link:


                                      I've seen this company's (G. Miclo) eaux de vie in my local area, so there is at least an outside chance I can get this...

                                      Next up: persimmon. Any ideas? :-)