Make It Another Old Fashioned

The recipe in my calendar today was for mulled wine. March 3rd is supposedly National Mulled Wine Day, another industry holiday. The Mull Industry. Hmmm. The first of March, though technically still winter, hardly seems like the time of year to drink mulled wine. October or November maybe. Maybe this is the red wine industry's last gasp attempt at profits before a summer of white wine and white roses.

I wasn't in the mood for mulled wine anyway, especially since it was in the mid 60s yesterday and almost that warm today until the cold front finally slogged its way in with muddy dog feet. I haven't had an old fashioned in many a moon - maybe once before in my life, actually - so I decided to give one of those a swirl around my palate. No dentures yet, despite the birthday yesterday.

An old fashioned is about the easiest cocktail there is: bourbon, a little simple syrup, a couple dashes of bitters. I'd just got a bottle of Peychaud's in my care package of What You Can't Find in Indiana (want a list? it'd be as long as Leporello's). I wrestled with the middle-age-child-proof plastic on the cap. My bottle of Jack was almost empty, so I figured I'd deliver the coup de grace. I had just enough.

Verdict: I liked it. Close enough to bourbon straight up for my taste, but the simple syrup and bitters softened the edges a bit.

Nobody can drink just one, so I looked in my bartender's manual and found a recipe for an Old Fashioned cocktail: rye or bourbon, Dubonnet, a little curacao, bitters, absinthe, orange slice, lemon peel. Rye doesn't get enough attention these days; I went with that. And the Peychaud's again (though I might have used orange bitters to go with the other orange flavors). No fruit will be backstroking in my drink, so I splashed in a dash of OJ instead. I just juiced my last lemon; a little dried lemon rind went in to make up for it.

As for the absinthe - licorice is one of the few flavors I just can't take. A little fennel seed is as far as I go in that direction. And I don't have any of the green fairy sitting around the house - or blue fairy or any other Milton Bradley game piece - but I did have some star anise lurking in the depths of the freezer. I tossed one in for a nod toward a taste Gesamtkunstwerk.

Verdict: not bad. I'm sure using absinthe would give it a completely different taste; I got very little of the anise. The Dubonnet overwhelms the rye, so you end up with a sweet cocktail. I'll stick with the purist Option no. 1. Make it another, please.