I will always choose food over booze. However, when I think of going home, while I do think of my mom’s gumbo or meatballs over brown gravy or my other favorite mommy dishes (if I listed them all, you would stop reading), the number one thing I miss most are my mom’s Old Fashioneds – a whisky drink that is perfect for sipping.
And it’s not even about the drinks, though delicious, as much as it’s about that one time of the day where you are sitting together, entirely un-distracted, talking to one another over a nice cocktail. You really can’t beat it. Any time I have an Old Fashioned at a restaurant or bar, I will inevitably be texting my mother to describe what they did differently (in other words, WRONG, like soda water). It’s something that brings us together, no matter how many miles we are apart.
The traditional Old Fashioned uses rye whiskey. But, my “tradition” means what my family uses, which is Maker’s Mark. Sorry, it’s smoother. Another family quirk is that you must use imported Luxardo (real Maraschino) cherries. While these are a pretty penny per jar compared to your fake-o cherries, they are totally worth it.
Since I have not found these imported cherries in Charleston as of yet (anyone know where I can find them???), I made a fruity simple syrup to make up for it. So delicious and refreshing. Perfect for date night.
- 1 part Simple Syrup
- 4 parts Whiskey (We use Maker’s Mark, but rye can be used as well)
- 4-5 drops of Angostora bitters
- Optional garnishing depending on what kind of sweetness you want – Luxardo cherries (with a splash of cherry juice), orange slice (orange and cherry are traditional garnishments), blueberries, lemon peel, etc… Tradional = cherry and orange.
Add together in a short glass and fill to the brim with ice. Sip slowly. Yes it is strong, but this is a sipping cocktail. My mom would definitely say this cocktail was too weak – she really likes a strong cocktail. 😉
- 1 part sugar
- 1 part water
- (optional: 1/2 part fruit if you want it flavored)
Boil ingredients together over the stovetop. Boil for 5-10 minutes – mixture will turn from cloudy to clear. Then jar (if you have fruit, strain it out before jarring the liquid).
I almost always make traditional simple syrup. However, if you don’t have good cherries (and juice) or if you want a little sassy hit of something fruity, I love either pineapple or blueberry simple syrup.. or any other fruit you want. Just be careful when pairing that fruit with either cherries, oranges, etc. You don’t want to overwhelm the bourbon with fruitiness.
These made for a very successful date night, especially when followed with Bacon Cheddar Chicken Avocado Paninis and Butternut Squash Fries.