Posts tagged “whisky”
Walker Percy wrote that “bourbon does for me what the piece of cake did for Proust.” Distillers have been appealing to this feeling—something visceral and personal that transcends price points or mash bills—for years. It connects to the collective cultural consciousness: the myths of tax rebels sticking it to Alexander Hamilton; or outlaws at their stills, deep in the hollers of Kentucky; or Junior Johnson outrunning the law on the back roads of North Carolina, packing illegal hooch in the trunk. It is the stuff of cowboy saloons and city dive bars and a thousand country songs. This narrative, of course, is told in the codes of (largely white) masculinity—and aimed at and perpetuated by the kinds of drinkers, mostly men, I suspect, who hope that their poison of choice tells a story about them, and who are worried that it might not be the right one. Bourbon seems like a sturdy marker of a freedom-loving American identity, but that narrative is mostly a pleasant fiction. The truth of the tale lies in mergers and holding companies and transnational distribution rights. George Jones never sang about any of that. The real story of the modern whiskey industry is less romantic but no less American. The country’s “native spirit,” as bourbon is often called, is one of capitalization and consolidation.
Back in November, slate.com published a long, thorough, kind of insanely detailed history of the old fashioned. My favorite part of that actually comes from a Letter to the NYT Editor dated Jan 1, 1936. The author simply names himself "OLD TIMER."
Consider, for instance, the old-fashioned cocktail. Time was when the affable and sympathetic bartender moistened a lump of sugar with Angostura bitters, dropped in a lump of ice, neither too large nor too small, stuck in a miniature bar spoon and passed the glass to the client with a bottle of good bourbon from which said client was privileged to pour his own drink. In most places the price was 15 cents or two for a quarter.
Nowadays the modern or ex-speakeasy bartender drops a spoonful of powdered sugar into a glass, adds a squirt of carbonic to aid dissolution, adds to that a dash or two of some kind of alleged bitters and a lump of ice, regardless to size. Then he proceeds to build up a fruit compote of orange, lemon, pineapple and cherry, and himself pours in a carefully measured ounce and a halt of bar whisky, usually a blend, and gives one a glass rod to stir it with. Price 35 to 50 cents.
Profanation and extortion.
The whole article is worth a read. Check it out here.
As the Old Fashioned gets more popular, so do bastardizations of said magical cocktail. The 6 plus step process created by Martin Doudoroff at oldfashioned101.com lays out some guidelines for the creation of this majestic, "simple and sublime drink."
I couldn't have said this better or executed it more perfectly. This is a nice way to learn how to make an old fashioned and a humorous guide for getting started with making the best damn drink on the planet.