There are several bars in Philly that take classic cocktails very seriously, so we went to chat with a few experts for some tips on making an old-school Old Fashioned (and other classics)—and how not to screw it up.
Bartender: Stephen's been at XIX for five years, bartending for 10.
Usually, an Old Fashioned involves bitters, sugar, cherry and orange muddled and topped with whiskey and club soda. XIX does theirs a little differently with a puree that brings out the taste of the fruit more than muddling, as the fruit isn't diluted. In case you've got some time to spare:
Dry cherries and oranges in an oven
Puree the dried fruit
Wet the rim of the glass with a lemon or lime, then dip the glass in the fruit puree
Add 2.5 oz. bourbon
Add 2 oz. bitters
Add a dash of club soda
Amateur Hour: Not making sure the fruit's dried out and blended well.
The Pear Car
A variation on the sidecar, Stephen’s invention has become a XIX favorite. Ingredients are in equal parts:
Start with a little simple syrup (which is just a combination of sugar and water)
Add brandy (XIX uses Cavasia)
Add pear vodka (Grey Goose or Absolut, depending on your wallet)
Add a little bit of fresh lemon juice
Add a splash of Cointreau
Shake and pour
Garnish with a bit of pear
Amateur Hour: Not being careful about the brandy-to-vodka ratio.
Clover Club Cocktail
This drink was conceived in the early 1900s in the building that now houses XIX. People sometimes have a hard time with the idea of the egg white, but they actually mix into drinks very well. Stephen recommends this for people who have a problem with drinking gin straight—the grenadine and lemon juice make it smoother:
Pour 2 oz. gin
Add 1 oz. of grenadine
Add 1 oz. egg whites
Add a splash of fresh lemon juice
Add a dash of sugar
Shake for about 30 seconds to mix up the egg white, until it gets foamy, then strain
Amateur Hour: Too much egg white.
Bartender: Dave has been working at the Ranstead Room since it opened six months ago, and though he'd bartended for about 13 years before that, he says the Ranstead Room is where he's learned the most. Ask him about the bartender’s choice.
Ranstead's version of the classic:
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