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Like many of the world’s top barmen – or mixologists as they’re called these days – Le Sirenuse’s Robert Wimmer is understandably reluctant to share his secrets with the rest of the world. But knowing that he shares with Don Draper of Mad Men a penchant for the Old Fashioned, we have persuaded Robert to reveal his take on this American bar classic – which has some claim to be the original cocktail.
Begin by putting the soda water, a single ice cube, a third of the bourbon, the lemon peel and the Angostura-soaked sugar cube in a classic Old Fashioned tumbler. Stir around vigorously with a barman’s muddler or equivalent, allowing the sugar grains to open the pores in the lemon peel and release the aroma of the fruit. Continue until the sugar is completely dissolved.
At this point, add another third of the bourbon and continue stirring until the ice has melted.
Top the glass up with ice cubes and add the rest of the bourbon, garnishing with the orange peel and a maraschino cherry.
Associated with the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky (where the recipe was codified in the 1880s – though it’s unlikely to have been invented there) and with the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York, this is a cocktail to come home to. It’s no fancy upstart, like so many contemporary cocktails. It’s a warming, pre-dinner pick-me-up that, as Cole Porter wrote in this song for the 1940 musical Panama Hattie, has the power to spirit away the cares of the world:
Make it another Old Fashioned, please
Make it another double Old Fashioned, please
Make it for one who's due to join the disillusion crew
Make it for one of love's new refugees
Once high in my castle, I ran to you
And oh what a castle, built on a heavenly dream
Then quick as a lightning flash, that castle began to crash
So, make it another Old Fashioned, please.