For many cocktail drinkers, myself included, an Old-Fashioned epitomizes the idea of a classic drink. Its basic recipe provides a blank canvas that invites us to explore the idea of putting our own artistic spin on things. While working this past Saturday behind the bar at Cooper River Distillers, I had the opportunity to experiment with creating an Old-Fashioned with our Rye Oak Reserve rum, a distillery-made coffee liqueur, a rich simple from True Syrups & Garnishes, and a dash of orange bitters. You can see how this version easily follows the Old-Fashioned template of 2½ ounces of a base spirit, a sweetener, and a dash of bitters. In creating this particular combination, I knew that I wanted the aged rum as my base and the coffee liqueur as my additional spirit, and I still wanted them to total up to the original 2½ ounces. I used our rum from the distillery, which is aged in barrels that had previously held rye whiskey, but you could also use a Barbados rum like Mount Gay or a Jamaican rum like Appleton Estates, along with your favorite coffee liqueur. I love the taste of orange with anything coffee so my choice of bitters was easy. The only decision I had left was which sweetener to use. I decided on the Rich Simple because it’s made from raw demerara sugar, which just happens to be what the original Old-Fashioned recipes called for in sugar cube form. Its deeper flavor married so beautifully with the rum and the coffee, and just a bar spoon was enough to bring the perfect amount of sweetness to this cocktail. In thinking of your own Old-Fashioned creations, focus on your base spirit first, then come up with what you’d like to use as its companion. The field is wide open. There are all the Italian Amari to choose from, liqueurs like Yellow Chartreuse or Ancho Reyes that traditionally go with darker spirits, and things like Green Chartreuse, Suze, and St. Germain that are more often paired with vodka and gin. Think of the bitters and sweetener as the final touches that you’ll add to bring out or intensify your flavors. Have fun with it! Happy mixing!!
2 oz aged rum
½ oz coffee liqueur
1 bar spoon True Syrups & Garnishes rich simple
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until very cold. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over one large cube. Express an orange peel over the drink, rub it along the rim, give it a twist, and drop it in. Enjoy!