April 13, 2024

Two key indicators confirm that I am officially, unambiguously, and regrettably an adult. It’s not my age, which, depending on who you ask, can range from 27 to fifty years old, and it’s certainly not the horizontal lines that have deepened on my forehead as a result of the many times I’ve been around people, the world, etc. My face has been etched with a “Are you Fucking kidding me?” expression. I’m not a homeowner! I have never had more than $20 saved in an account. I am still a young person, and I don’t know what to do with my life. How did something so subjective become so indisputably factual and relentless?

When Lee Hazlewood sings, “Let these I-Don’t Care days begin, I am tired of holding my belly in,” I feel it. It only takes a song and a drink to bring reality home.

Drinks in the old-fashioned style are lovely—a pleasingly retro feel like putting a lit match on your tongue while massaging your shoulders. Before I get too far into “Daddy’s had a long day” territory, let me remind myself (mostly) that cocktails are more than a temporary, badly-adhesive patch on the everyday. Cocktails are a ceremony. They’re a ritual that elevates and dignifies. Even though old-fashioned drinks are among the stiffer and more serious, you can still explore this glorious trio of bitters and sugar.

The Fancy-Free cocktail is an excellent example of how simple modifications transform a classic recipe. It’s a tremendous old-fashioned to transition us out of the summer. The sugar cube is replaced with Maraschino, Angostura, and orange bitters are added, and the Bourbon is increased by a quarter of an ounce. It’s a bit silkier, brighter, and more vibrant than the classic old-fashioned, but it still tastes like something from another time, pre-technicolor. You might even feel the urge to pick up an old book after a few sips.

I mix my maraschino with simple syrup. The ratio is about 3:1. Just under 1/2 ounce of Maraschino can be jigged and topped with a bar spoon of simple syrup. A little simple syrup, like salt, can enhance the flavor of any liqueur and create a more harmonious and balanced drink. The result won’t be sweeter but smoother.

Fancy-Free

  • One dash of Orange Bitters*
  • 2-3 lives Angostura
  • 1/2 ounce Maraschino liqueur
  • 2 1/4 Ounces Bourbon
  • Orange twist as a garnish

Pour all ingredients into a double-rock glass. Add ice, and stir five to six times. Pour the oil of the orange twist over the cocktail, and add a garnish.

Orange bitters are a great alternative to the heavy dousing I recommend when using Angostura. You only need to use a conservative amount of it.

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