Ask anyone who drinks spirit-based drinks will likely tell you they have a signature drink. This is the drink you order when you go to a bar, and nothing else appeals to you, or you want to stay in your comfort zone… or everything on the menu ends in -tini and you don’t feel like drinking liquid candy.
Larry’s a Corn ‘n’ Oil guy. I’m partial to an Old Fashioned. Corn ‘n’ Oil is a little uncommon, but as long as the bar stocks rum, falernum and angostura bitters, Larry knows his favorite ratio and can get just what he likes.
My go-to drink is an Old Fashioned. I have very specific ideas about an Old Fashioned. It needs to be spirit, sugar, bitters. Orange twist. Ice. Stirred, not shaken. That’s it. No muddled fruit, especially the DayGlo maraschino cherry. I’m partial to Bourbon or rye, but am happy to drink an Old Fashioned with rum or mezcal. Actually, if you think about it.. a Corn ‘n’ Oil is really just a variation on an Old Fashioned (falernum is a sweet spiced syrup).
If I’m drinking a rye-based Old Fashioned, Templeton Rye is one of my favorite rye whiskies for mixing. The spirit needs to be able to stand on its own – the rest of the cocktail is pretty simple, so using an inferior base liquor will make an inferior drink. Templeton has just the right amount of rye spiciness, and it’s reasonably priced, so it won’t break the bank.
The thing with whiskey is that I always want to pair it with wintery flavors. Maple, apple cider, warm spices. But it’s summer, so I’m thinking I need a summertime twist on an Old Fashioned.
I took some liberties with the Old Fashioned in order to keep with the freshness of the season. I made a simple syrup infused with thyme, and then finished off the drink with a healthy dose of Meyer lemon bitters and a lemon twist. It’s a lovely drink, and has become a refreshing way to wrap up a long day. The Templeton Rye works particularly well in this drink – it doesn’t overpower or compete with the delicate thyme and lemon flavors.
My success with the Old Fashioned encouraged me to create a variation on Larry’s corn ’n’ oil, doing a simple swap of the rum for rye. It’s no surprise that it’s delicious – I don’t know why I haven’t made this before now. Falernum includes cinnamon and clove, the same wintry spices that work well with my cold-weather cocktails. But it also gets an acidic hit from a good dose of lime. Falernum is available at most liquor stores, but I make my own using a variation on this recipe. I used Angostura bitters in the drink, but I think allspice bitters would be great as well.
Stay tuned – over the next two days, I’ll write more about rye-based cocktails, including how to pair rye with unexpected ingredients to add some excitement into your cocktail hour.
Lemon-Thyme Old Fashioned
Yield: one drink
2 oz. Templeton Rye
1/2 oz. thyme simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes lemon bitters (or to taste)
Combine the rye, simple syrup and bitters in a mixing glass. Fill the glass with ice and slowly stir to chill and dilute the cocktail. Strain into a rocks glass (over a large ice cube, if desired). Garnish with the lemon twist, expressing the oils over the drink.
Thyme simple syrup
Yield: 1/2 cup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on medium until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and add the thyme sprigs to the sugar syrup. Cover the pan and let steep for at 30 minutes. Remove the thyme from the pan (strain the syrup if needed, to remove any stray leaves). Cool completely before using in a cocktail. The syrup will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Rye Corn ’n’ Oil
Yield: one drink
2.5 oz. Templeton Rye
1 oz. falernum (Velvet brand, or homemade)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine the rye and falernum in a mixing glass. Fill the glass with ice and slowly stir to chill and dilute the cocktail. Strain into a rocks glass (over a large ice cube, if desired). Top with Angostura bitters.
Disclaimer: The folks at Templeton Rye provided me with a bottle of their product for experimentation. All opinions are my own.