Make this for the sophisticated Valentine in your life.
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For Valentine’s Day this year, I wanted to create an easy cocktail that appeals to both the guys and the girls. No shade at all the pink drinks this time of year, but I wanted to go with something more understated and riff on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. Brown liquor is definitely an acquired taste, but over the years, I’ve taken a liking to bourbon and in particular, bourbon-based cocktails. To me, bourbon is a bit sweeter and smoother than for example Scotch whisky (btw, I found this helpful primer on all the differences between various whiskies).
My Recipe Notes
Before jumping into the recipe below. Here are some of my tips for making this cocktail.
First, having the right ice for a whiskey-based cocktail is very important. You’ll want large ice cubes, as they melt more slowly and dilute the drink less. I like Oxo’s large ice cube trays. In addition to this, chill your glasses for a bit prior to making your cocktail.
Second, as I’ve said above, brown liquor is definitely an acquired taste. Bourbon does tend to be sweeter – in particular, I like Four Roses and Angel’s Envy and have seen both brands in most liquor stores (at least in Manhattan and Brooklyn). If you have a favorite already, that will do, too.
Third, I learned that cherry juice is kind of expensive and can be hard to find. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I would recommend getting it there as I know they have it at more reasonable prices. I didn’t have time to run to (or let’s face it, the line at) Trader Joe’s, but was lucky to find a small (relatively) reasonably priced bottle in the local market near my apartment.
Fourth, you can muddle sugar for the recipe or use simple syrup if you prefer. I had simple syrup on hand as I made it for other cocktails. I’ve included the recipe for the syrup below, too. Thank you to Tasia at Two Sugar Bugs and Lauren at From Prosecco to Peaches for helping me refine my simple syrup making technique. You should all go check out their blogs and Instagram feeds for some wonderful treats and recipes.
Fifth, I absolutely implore you to get Luxardo maraschino cherries for the garnish (Epicurious is with me on this, too). If you’ve never had them before, they are basically an elevated, and really the original, version of those bright artificially colored maraschino cherries we had on ice cream sundaes or in Shirley Temples as a kid. I can’t lie, I had a few of these cherries while working on the recipe and photos for this post!
A riff on a the classic bourbon or rye-based drink. If I owned a fancy cocktail bar, I would probably call it Bad at Love after the Halsey song of the same name. Adapted from NYTCooking's classic Old Fashioned recipe and Jelly Toast's Tart Cherry Old Fashioned.
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1/2 ounce cherry juice
- 1/2-1 tsp (roughly) simple syrup, I don't like my Old Fashioned cocktails very sweet so I err on the side of less here
- 3 Luxardo maraschino cherries, for garnish
Next, add the cherry juice and bourbon. I like Four Roses Small Batch bourbon. Old Fashioned cocktails can be made with either bourbon or rye, so if you prefer rye, use that. I always go for bourbon.
Add in one large ice cube or two medium sized ones. Oxo has a great large ice cube tray - perfect for whiskey cocktails.
Stir to chill the drink.
An essential for cocktail making.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
Add one part water and one part sugar to a saucepan (I went with 1/2 cup each). Bring the saucepan to a simmer and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, take the saucepan off the heat and let cool.
Have you ever had a cherry Old Fashioned cocktail before?
By the way, if you’re looking for another easy, classic cocktail recipe, be sure to check out my post on the French 75.