The Old-Fashioned (the real Old-Fashioned, as Ted Haigh has decreed, i.e., without the Fruit Salad) is a beautiful drink. Easy to make, easy to love. But, and here is the key thing, poorly suited for summer temperatures and relative humidity that makes every living second a torment, akin to being simmered gently in a sweat reduction. So, like so many whiskey-heavy numbers, not a summer drink.
Gin, of course, is a much better base for summer, and, as I found myself mentioning to the girlfriend as I sniffed appreciatively at our open bottle of Citadelle (Plymouth is really expensive in Illinois, ok?), I really like gin. Just, you know, sniffing it. Mmm. But a man cannot live by gin alone. For one, it makes lousy Old-Fashioneds.
Enter aquavit, specifically the Linie Aquavit, which gets a bit of wood-aging. Aquavit is essentially a Scandinavian equivalent of gin, but with caraway taking the place of juniper. According to David Embury (who, honestly, is not really an authoritative source, but I wanted an excuse to reference my newly acquired copy of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks), it is redistilled after infusion, like gin, giving it the same lucidity of flavor. It’s traditionally served in shots, ice cold. But, like other obscure liquors, it’s gotten more attention as we’ve continued to mine the well-known liquors for all their worth.
Most importantly, aquavit is is refreshingly flavored, like gin or tequila, but brown! So clearly it needed to go into an Old-Fashioned. And, equally importantly, I just got my hands on (finally) some Celery Bitters from The Bitter Truth (seriously, I find Fee Bros. stuff disgusting – is this just me?). For some reason celery and aquavit seem like a natural pairing, so I just went with what feels right.
Den Gammeldagse (According to Google Translate!)
- 2 oz aquavit (I used Linie)
- 1 tsp simple syrup
- 2 generous dashes celery bitters (The Bitter Truth stuff)
- Large lemon zest
In a mixing glass, stir aquavit, simple syrup, and bitters over ice until very cold. Strain into an ice-filled Old-Fashioned glass. Twist the lemon peel over, rub the rim, and drop it in.
Normally, for a whiskey Old-Fashioned, one just mixes everything up in the glass, but aquavit is best served bone-chillingly cold, so I decided to go with this method. It seems to work well.
This is a pretty cool cocktail. The same basic feeling as an Old-Fashioned, but refreshing, rather than comforting. Essentially a good way to show off the aquavit. An excuse to have sentence fragments. And great for summer days when you need something neat (hah, pun), easy, and cooling.