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Almond Old Fashioned: A Classic Cocktail Gets A Modern Spin

The Almond Old Fashioned: Putting A Modern Twist On A Classic

Most cocktails that have endured through centuries to remain relevant in contemporary cocktail craft have very interesting histories. In the intervening years, mixologists have continued to experiment with different permutations of the proportions of ingredients that go into making these drinks to get their preparation just right. 

Over time, several such recipes have been dabbled with to arrive at flavour combinations which celebrate the spirits and mixers that are essential in concocting these blends to perfection. The old fashioned cocktail is one such timeless recipe which literally pays tribute to the very first makings of a whisky cocktail and marks a simple way to serve this spirit with some ice, sugar and bitters.

In fact, according to Eater, the old fashioned is basically a drink that was earlier simply referred to as the ‘whisky cocktail.’ It brought together whisky, sugar, bitters and water in as early as the 1800s to serve a delightfully intense and robust drink made from a premium bourbon or rye whisky.

During the late 19th century, bartenders began to add several embellishments to this drink as they experimented with different innovations and ingredients, so much so that patrons who preferred the original mix were pushed to ask simply for the ‘old fashioned whisky cocktail’ turning it into the old fashioned we recognise and savour today.

The Almond Old Fashioned: Putting A Modern Twist On A Classic

Almond Old Fashioned

However, as mixology evolved, bartenders persisted in bringing into the classic whisky cocktail some changes and additions which elevate the textural layers you would find in the drink. Adding hints of almond to an old fashioned introduces such a texturally earthy and nuanced component into the drink that gives it a bit more depth and intensity of flavour.

The old fashioned in itself is a very potent cocktail – it brings in the smoky and sweet elements of a good bourbon with the bitter, acidic and tangy profile of citrus bitters and sugar syrup to embody a very full flavour. Almonds enhance this complexity by introducing another flavourful element that builds beautifully on these pre existing tastes while amplifying the notes of bourbon in the drink.

Additionally, this complex profile is supplemented by a drier note emanating from the orgeat syrup or amaretto that might be used to craft the cocktail so you are left with an aftertaste that is simultaneously sweet and nutty. This flavour manages to cut through the boozy kick of the bourbon too, so that you can enjoy a leisurely glass or two of the drink without fearing a hangover the next day.

Adding Almonds To An Old Fashioned

Bartenders use several ways to add the essence and complex textures of almonds to an old fashioned cocktail. Along with pouring in whisky and angostura bitters into a cocktail glass, they can either pour in some orgeat syrup in lieu of simple syrup to introduce almond notes into the recipe or go with an almond infused bourbon or rye whisky to add the essence of the dried fruit directly into the spirit.

The Almond Old Fashioned: Putting A Modern Twist On A Classic

However, since orgeat is made from almonds, sugar and rose water, most mixologists prefer this syrup because it brings in all the different flavours required to build this cocktail in one mixer. Still others add lots of amaretto to the mix, that is, an Italian liqueur made from bitter almonds or peach pits, known for its almond-forward taste.

Another variation of the ‘almond old fashioned’ involves a slightly toasty version that makes use of disaronno amaretto and simple rye whisky put together with bourbon without the addition of simple syrup to the recipe. A contemporary take on the classic cocktail also involves mixing in brown sugar or muscovado sugar into the cocktail to give it a more earthy and intense finish.

Whatever variation you choose, the almond old fashioned cocktail manages to twist the classic recipe into a modern, dynamic mixology experiment that is full of complex flavours and nuanced layers, imbuing the drink with a very dignified allure. Such a delicious almond infused old fashioned can be enjoyed at an elegant cocktail party with passed hors d'oeuvres full of spicy and tangy ingredients.


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