Not Your Grandpappy's Old Fashioned

The Drink: Sean Brock’s Pappy Van Winkle Old Fashioned

October 24, 2014 Culture By
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Celebrated in the culinary world, Sean Brock is a James Beard Award-winning chef with three acclaimed restaurants to his name. The man also knows a thing or two about good booze, and regularly kicks back with Julian Van Winkle, grandson and heir to the famous name. A favorite served at his restaurant Husk, this riff on the Old Fashioned comes from Brock’s first cookbook, Heritage. — Jack Seemer

This is a version of a drink that Julian Van Winkle made for me in his home one evening. He said it was the way his grandpa liked to mix a drink; it’s a cocktail very similar to a classic old-fashioned.

The ritual of making the drink is the fun part. People love watching us make these behind the bar at Husk, and it’s essential that you use a very strong (107-proof) bourbon. At first sip, the cocktail is quite strong, but pay attention to the flavor of the bourbon and try to pick out different tasting notes. As the ice melts in the drink, the proof drops and the flavor of the bourbon will change along with it. Each sip will be different. Drink it slowly. It takes a long time to make this perfect cocktail, and so it should take a long time to drink it.

1 orange wedge, unpeeled
1 raw sugar cube
7 dashes Angostura bitters
7 dashes orange bitters, preferably Regan’s
2.5 ounces 107-proof bourbon, preferably Pappy Van Winkle
Ice cube or sphere


1. Trim the tips off the ends of the orange wedge to cut down some of the bitterness and place the wedge in a large cocktail shaker. Cover the shaker with a bar napkin. Put the sugar cube in the center of the napkin and carefully coat the sugar cube with the bitters; the napkin will catch the runoff. Drop the soaked cube into the shaker and discard the napkin. 2. Using a bar spoon or a muddler, muddle the sugar with the flesh of the orange wedge; be careful not to push into the pith, as that would make the cocktail bitter. The result should be a thick syrup. Add 1 ounce of the bourbon and muddle for 3 minutes. Add a big ice cube or sphere. Add another ounce of bourbon and stir for 30 seconds. Pour into a rocks glass. 3. Top off with the remaining 1/2 ounce of bourbon and stir for 5 seconds. Serve immediately.

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