The Old Fashioned is such a popular choice in bars these days (possibly due to the influence of Don Draper in Mad Men in the early 2000s), it even has its own week of celebrations! From 1st – 10th November admirers will be toasting to the 19th century cocktail around the globe and in London it is with the help of Woodford Reserve. Some of the best bars across London will be hosting a variety of events and experiences to celebrate Old Fashioned Week, with some of them creating speciality serves using this straight bourbon.
A classic Old Fashioned is made by ‘muddling’ sugar with bitters (typically Angostura), followed by adding alcohol and will normally be served in a short, round tumbler. As with most American cocktails, ice will be placed in the glass, as well as a piece of citrus peel. If you have tasted a well-mixed Old Fashioned, you have to admit it is a ‘serious’ drink and the award-winning Woodford Reserve is a fine spirit to create it with. MenswearStyle were kindly given an exclusive preview of the celebrations and taken on a tour of a few bars across East of London to try different adaptations of this well-known beverage.
As an introduction to this ten-day festival, we started our tour at Sagar + Wilde on Paradise Row, in Bethnal Green. This is the company’s second location, with a third on the way. One of their signature takes on the Old Fashioned involves Woodford Reserve combined with olive oil which gives the cocktail a lively and peppery kick! I personally tried the Baked Apple which ingredients included apple caramel, cinnamon and walnut bitters. As you can imagine from the name, it offered festive and sweet notes that made it a delightful drink for a wintery evening. Bring your appetite with you to try some delicious sharing plates whilst sipping on your Kentucky-born spirit.
Our second stop took us to Coupette, just around the corner from our first destination. This French-inspired watering hole rightfully won ‘Best New International Cocktail Bar’ at this year’s prestigious Spirited Awards. Stepping into this bar you are immediately welcomed with a laidback and lowly lit atmosphere. The leather stools, lengthy bar and copper hued overhead pendant lamps give it an air of Parisian sophistication. Your eyes will easily be drawn to the unique pieces of art, produced by local artists, that adorn the exposed brickwork walls. It was here we were treated to a simply classic Old Fashioned. Don’t expect crazy cocktails here, it’s all about perfecting traditional drinks and focusing on the art of cocktail making. Coupette provides the ideal environment to enjoy the warmth and depth of Woodford Reserve’s aromatic notes.
Bar III at Blixen in Spitalfields Market was aptly our third port of call where we were taken down to the basement to try whisky infused with earl grey tea, fermented milk and cedarwood. Yes, you might turn your nose up at the thought of fermented milk combined with alcohol (ignore any flashbacks of a University dare…), however it was absolutely delicious. It creates a completely smooth twist on the Old Fashioned and makes it dangerously easy to drink! If you plan on celebrating with fellow whisky drinkers at this cosy and atmospheric bar, I can highly recommend this cocktail.
For our final cocktail, we headed to the characterful Oriole bar, curiously tucked away in Smithfield Market. This is certainly a place for some fun cocktails which are creatively served in the likes of quartz tumblers and glasses featuring miniature wooden monkeys. Here we tried two signature cocktails, The Storyville and Acadia. The first features Woodford Reserve mixed with Remy Martin Cognac, Amaro Montenegro and Mallo Vermouth. The second; the whisky combined with Roots Tentura liquer, maple syrup, peanut butter and grapefruit juice. As well as a delicious twist on the classic, Oriole will be serving live blues music to compliment your evening.
Other top London bars such as; Swift, The London Edition, The Ned and Milk & Honey have partnered up with Woodford Reserve for Old Fashioned Week. Carefully curated bespoke whisky cocktails are ready to be tried and tested as well as listening to great live music and enjoying some soulful southern-inspired food. And if you don’t fancy heading out, why not grab yourself a bottle of this triple-distilled bourbon and make yourself an Old Fashioned in your own home.
Article by Menswear Style