4th of July Week-End bookend if you need one Rye Bourbon Old Fashioned from The Old-Fashioned, The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore (Ten Speed Press, May 2014) by Robert Simonson...
Today’s widespread experimentation notwithstanding, when you’re talking about an authentic Old-
Fashioned, the central debate is always this: rye or bourbon. In the late 1800s and early 1900s,
preferences were probably fairly evenly split and depended heavily on region. In the decades after
Prohibition, bourbon slowly but surely developed an edge, and rye, thought old-fashioned and somewhat
disreputable (The Lost Weekend, etc.), fell into eclipse. In recent years, rye has made a big comeback, so drinkers once again have a choice. Doctrinaire purists tend to insist on rye, thinking it the more
historically authentic choice, but both function admirably. Simply put, bourbon will give you a mellower
and sweeter cocktail, whereas rye will deliver a bit more spice and kick. Among American whiskeys that
provide the best value for their price—and make an outstanding Old-Fashioned—I recommend Elijah
Craig 12 Year Old and Henry McKenna Single Barrel (make sure it’s the bonded) bourbons, and
Rittenhouse 100-Proof and Bulleit ryes. (McKenna, which can be difficult to find outside Kentucky,
strikes a nice balance, spice-wise, between the Elijah Craig and Rittenhouse).
2 ounces rye or bourbon
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Muddle the sugar, bitters, and a barspoon of warm water at the bottom of an Old-Fashioned glass until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rye or bourbon. Stir. Add one large chunk of ice and stir until chilled.
Twist a large piece of orange zest over the drink and drop into the glass.
(* Reprinted with permission from The Old-Fashioned by Robert Simonson, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Photographs (c) 2014 by Daniel Krieger)