A simple and warming blend of Bourbon, Sugar, Water, Angostura Bitters, garnished with Orange & Maraschino Cherry.
…My job consists of a series of tangled tours around the globe, and at most stops along the way I often find myself with a trusty this familiar cocktail to hand, sipping slowly as it’s flavours dance across my tongue, rich sweetness, and zesty spice warming me both inside & out.
At this point it is almost ritualistic in it’s regularity (always enjoyed responsibly), and pseudo-“slice-of-home” in spite of it’s never having been drunk at my actual home. So, upon entering a more stationary season with considerably more time at home, I decided I would bring my touring tipple along back with me.
I am at times, a creature of singular focus and what some may label “obsession” (an attribute I have carried from teen Star Wars aficionado, through to professional musician)…
In applying this to this drink; a blend of relatively few ingredients, I decided to contemplate the parts that made the whole…
The official ingredients are as follows:
4.5cl Bourbon (or Rye Whiskey)
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Sugar Cube
Splash of Water
Orange Slice & Maraschino Cherry to garnish.
This allows for a considerable range of possibilities and options, as there are a kaleidoscope of interpretations of this simple recipe: Bourbon or Rye? Experiment with the bitters? White or brown sugar? Sugar syrup? …etc
Relatively early on I settled with Bulleit Bourbon as a base – I liked it’s spicy character and orange-y notes, and felt these worked as a good foundation.
Having experimented with different bitters on different equations, both myself and at the hands of many barkeepers I felt it best to keep it somewhat traditional and stick to the classic Angostura bitters, whilst I do sometimes use an orange bitters in the absence of an orange garnish.
The sugar and the water are where I diverge a little – the sugar cube is elegant, but at times I feel it doesn’t blend in to the drink enough, and as much as I value labour and process, there are times when the marathon muddling required to mix sugar grains and water is inconvenient and enjoyable… So having decided upon demerara as my sugar of choice (I simply love it’s dark richness), I set about making a simple syrup with water, for easy use in future drink making. Just dissolve your preferred sugar in water at a ratio of 100g sugar : 100ml water. Simply heat and combine then pour in to a sterilised bottle or container and allow to cool.
Finally, the cherry comes under our gaze. I wanted nothing to do with those red plastic monstrosities you are sometimes served up, and so looked for something more refined. Ultimately I was introduced to the original Maraschino cherry from Luxardo,
at a number of bars across the USA. You should most definitely seek these out if you haven’t had them before: they are delicious and addictive!
Additionally, you can make your own – a road I ventured along, loosely following a number of recipes found on the internet (search “homemade maraschino cherries”). Essentially a combination of sour cherries, cherry syrup, and a touch of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, which is then left to macerate and mix up in a dark cupboard. Ultimately, this process came at a similar cost to Luxardo’s own, though with a favour that definitely stands up to the original… I think both are options worth pursuing, and either way you end up with a jar of delicious drops of pleasure.
As for combining them… my personal ritual is as follows:
-Take your glass (generally a small rocks glass), and add a splash of the syrup: 10-20ml to taste
-Add two dashes of bitters.
-Add 1 maraschino cherry ad a slice of orange, and muddle gentlly.
-Remove the orange slice, and add 40ml Bourbon
-Add ice and return the orange slice to serve