The Old Fashioned, New

Simple twists on a classic cocktail. 

There are currently 18 distilleries operating in Montana, including three right here in the Gallatin Valley. With that much variety, why go beyond the borders of the Treasure State when mixing your next cocktail? The simple answer: don’t. Here are a few to try.

The Booze: Jim Bridger Whiskey from Bozeman Spirits
Aroma: Cinnamon, caramel, and honey with faint notes of citrus or orange peel.
Tasting Notes: With a high barley mash bill, the taste of this whiskey falls between an Irish whiskey and a bourbon, with hints of tobacco and some grassy notes. The citrus smell comes through in the taste. The long aging period brings forward some oak flavors that finish out the experience with a tannic taste and dry finish that doesn’t linger too long.
Review: Originally distilled and barreled in Indiana, this whiskey represents Bozeman Spirits Distillery quite well. A whiskey that has aged for ten years should be good, and Jim Bridger, which was first barreled in 2007, fits the bill. 

The Cocktail: Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is one of the original cocktails and remains a very popular drink. The Old Fashioned first appeared in 1862 in Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks, which is still considered the most famous cocktail book of all time (and one you can still find in print). 

However, in 1880 a Louisville, Kentucky bartender named James E. Pepper invented what we now know as the Old Fashioned for a private club. Mr. Pepper went on to become the head bartender at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City, and that is where the drink took root.

Don Draper brought the drink back on the scene as his beverage of choice in the Mad Men series. As they say on the popular lifestyle blog Ape to Gentleman, “‘An Old Fashioned please,’ ordered in equal measures by appreciative taste buds and hipsters looking to earn speakeasy street credibility.” Part of what makes an Old Fashioned great is that it is easy to make. Whatever your motives, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail in the truest sense of the term. Essentially, it’s whiskey, sugar, a splash of water, and a couple of dashes of bitters.

The Recipes: New Takes on an Old Classic
Here are two twists on an iconic favorite that can be perfect for the long, cold nights of a Montana winter.

Winter-Spiced Old Fashioned
2oz. whiskey (bourbon is common, but not required)
1 orange slice, cut in half
1 Maraschino cherry
1 cinnamon stick1 dash ground cinnamon
1 dash ground ginger
1 dash ground nutmeg
1tsp. sugar
2 dashes aromatic bitters
Splash soda water (optional) 

Place half of the sliced orange on a cutting board and sprinkle it with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Place the coated orange piece in the bottom of a rocks glass, then add the sugar. Muddle until the sugar is dissolved. Add whiskey and ice. Stir until well chilled. Garnish with the Maraschino cherry, cinnamon stick, and the remaining half of the sliced orange.

Apple-Cider Old Fashioned
2oz. whiskey (again bourbon is common, but not required)
2oz. apple cider (can use sparkling cider, flat cider, or even apple juice)
1tsp. brown sugar
1-2 dashes aromatic bitters
Orange slice, apple slice, and a bit of cinnamon for garnish 

In a rocks glass, combine the cider, bitters, and brown sugar. Stir or swirl the glass until the liquids combine and the sugar dissolves. Add ice and the bourbon.


Mark Lewis is the owner of Montana Spirits in Bozeman.