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Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

My (Not So) Old Fashioned

Photography by Athena Calderone

I’ve always been that gal searching for the perfect cocktail. I can often be found baffled at the bar, wondering what to order. However, I am also rather specific. I am not a vodka soda lover: it is too simple, lacks significant flavor and to be honest, if it isn’t a swoony experience I’d rather not drink a drop. For years this kept me sipping on wine: white in the summer, red in the winter or prosecco, but never champagne (again, it’s just not my thing). At times I would indulge in a dirty martini, but vodka made me agitated and aggressive—often I picked fights after vodka ran through my veins, no bueno! However, I do enjoy tequila and as it is the only alcohol that’s an upper, it is ideal for late, frisky nights out. My hubby got me into 1942 Don Julio Tequila—the most luxurious sipping tequila with vanilla and tobacco notes—I always imagined that it must be akin enjoying a whiskey or bourbon. I have tried many times to get into Bourbon: it’s just so chic and sexy to sip on warm, amber-hued bourbon on brisk days. Yet, every time I try, it was as though I was drinking gasoline: I wanted to enjoy it, really I did, but just didn’t happen. That is, until I discovered the iconic Old Fashioned.

Just a few weeks ago I attended a dinner for the season 13 premiere of Top Chef at Tom Colicchio’s restaurant Craft, in partnership with The Infatuation. There I gathered amongst the foodie elite and stood baffled at the bar, per usual. Friend and fellow creative Anthony D’Argenzio of Zio and Sons the infatuationordered an Old Fashioned. In a desperate attempt to find that perfect cocktail and try bourbon once more, I asked if I could have a sip. The most incredible medley of flavors mingled in my mouth: sweet vanilla, clean citrus and deep, spicy notes indeed shocked my palette and had me SWOONING! I had found my winter cocktail (thank you, Anthony!).

I was so excited that the next day I ran to a local DUMBO boutique liquor store that specializes in bourbon and offers an artisanal selection of my new favorite spirit. I chose a small-batch distillery made here in Brooklyn (King’s County Distillery) but I was also inspired by the bottle design – lets be honest, aesthetics always weigh heavily in my choices! I also nabbed an aromatic bitters: a traditional mixture of herbs with a base flavor from bitter roots that offers a botanical balance to so many cocktails. Since I am a newbie to this bourbon obsession I decided to infuse my Old Fashioned with a touch of winter citrus. Blood oranges have such a short season and they just scream winter, upon discovering them at the market I knew they would be paramount in my very first Old Fashioned. Always looking for the best of the best, I called upon dear friend and swooner of all swooners, Karen Mordechi of Sunday Suppers. She recently released the most beautifully packaged, highly curated, and carefully sourced small-batch selection of kitchen necessities called ILĀ. ILĀ’s full flavored wildflower honey called to me to infuse a swoony twist on the classic Old Fashioned. In lieu of traditional sugar cubes to sweeten the cocktail, I created a honey-rosemary simple syrup that would offer an herbal juxtaposition to the spicy citrus notes.

While it was new to me, the Old Fashioned is one of the first cocktails ever recorded, making it’s way to the Waldorf Astoria in 1880 via aristocrat and bartender James A. Pepper who invented the recipe in a private Louisville, Kentucky club (bet you didn’t know that :)). One last thing to share about my cocktail endeavor: while a few of my methods are unorthodox, I love ritual steeped in tradition. A classic oversized ice cube, the search for just the right bourbon, the slow process of making the simple syrup, a healthy and hearty dash of bitters, even the shape and style of the actual glass vessel is super specific. I am swooning the “new” Old Fashioned!

Blood Orange Old Fashioned with Honey + Rosemary Syrup

Eyeswoon Kitchen


Makes 1 cocktail

Honey Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Bring above three ingredients to low boil and a simmer for 5 minutes

To Make the Cocktail

  • 1 ½ ounces bourbon
  • 2 ounzes blood orange juice
  • 2-3 dashes of aromatic bitters
  • 1 tablespoon honey rosemary simple syrup
  • 1 oversized ice cube

Place first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker to gently combine and pour over ice cube in a classic whiskey glass.

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