Blog 135

A Bitter Twist on an Old Fashioned


Ben, is a director of Bar135 in Bristol.


So…  On our journey to discover more about the Old Fashioned and its multifaceted combination of very few ingredients we must start somewhere.  And so we start with two tentative steps into the world of Old Fashioned twists with a couple that I have enjoyed for some time.  They are extremely easy first steps and of which no one should be daunted – not that anyone should be daunted by any step no matter how advanced.  However we feel that to set off on an experience in which we will try many different concoctions, we should first truly appreciate where it has come from.  And with this in mind we feel that the major benefit of these variations are that they only alter one component of the drink which is a subtle change that allows me to appreciate the additional flavour alongside the balance of the original flavours of the drink.  That is, the alteration of the bitters, so called the ‘salt and pepper’ of cocktails, but we prefer ‘the stitches’.

So first we shall make an Old Fashioned with orange bitters as opposed to Angostura Bitters.  Another benefit of this drink is that we have not one but two bottles of orange bitters (Angostura and Fee’s Brothers) in the bar and so we know, so long as these don’t run out, we will always have the ingredients necessary to make this.

We will make this with the exact same formula as the regular Old Fashioned we made in the last post, but substituting the Angostura Bitters for orange bitters…

60ml Woodford Reserve Bourbon

1 Bar Spoon brown soft sugar

X2 dashes Orange Bitters

X1 Orange twist perfumed

The result is very subtle indeed.  As you would expect, the bitters accentuate the orange in the drink.  It is kind of a banker and most people would appreciate this just by looking at the ingredients and the fact that orange is used as a perfume and garnish.  But what it has taught me, which is an invaluable lesson when starting at the beginning such as this, is that Bourbon and orange complement each other like cats and milk.  They are made for each other.  They create a wonderfully rounded and smooth taste and the bitters sews together the citrus and the warmth of the bourbon superbly.

So, we have now made an Old Fashioned with orange bitters instead of Angostura.  This is in fact a widespread substitute made by bartenders, and we have heard it argued many times before that this is in fact the original recipe for the drink, so we know now we must take a step further.  So now, keeping my focus on the bitters in the drink, I move on to my next variation - Chocolate.  Again, we will not alter the recipe we used before which will give me clarity in my comparison, we will just switch the Angostura Bitters to chocolate bitters – we use Fee’s Brothers’ Aztec Chocolate Bitters.

60ml Woodford Reserve Bourbon

1 Bar Spoon brown soft sugar

X2 dashes Chocolate Bitters

X1 Orange twist perfumed

Now, we can’t sit here and say we have just discovered a flavour combination that will blow you all away due to its innovation and boldness.  Unfortunately Terry has beaten me to this accolade.  But nevertheless, Terry is very much right and this cocktail sends me back a few years to receiving at least one if not two – if my parents had run out of ideas – Chocolate Oranges in my Christmas stocking.  It just works.  I would highly recommend the Chocolate Bitters Old Fashioned and Fee’s Brothers have a fantastic product for this.

We may not have set the world alight with these drinks but nonetheless these are so subtle and work so well that I can definitely see myself asking for either of these in bars in the future, if not my own bar, or having one in the comfort of my own flat. 

About our blog

From Aviation highs all the way down to a Dark and Stormy, the Bar 135 blog will guide you through the cocktail world and make sure you end up with the perfect drink in your hand.
Keep coming back for the latest food and drink fashions as well as expert advice on recreating your favourite drinks at home.






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