Ok, I’m a fan of the classics. From Fall of Rome to Poseidon – as a sailor, his ability to create storms was a note to tread softly. Don’t forget the queen of the sea Amphitrite, or Escoffier the king of chefs and chef of kings…finisher of French mother sauces that are the basis for France’s stunning classical cuisine.
That also applies to Cocktails! Yep, classic cocktails. None more so than the Old Fashioned, named around 1880. Now there were claims from Kentucky to New York as to the original creator. No matter who it was, we are all grateful, as it’s one of the top most popular cocktails in the world!
Ok, so my point is there are many new variations, some ok, some good, and some brilliant ones. I am currently enjoying exploring it with Stalla Dhu Glenrothes Late hour port cask. That really hits the spot! More about new styles later, this is about my venture into classics.
So I’m in Edinburgh doing a little research *wink wink*, I decided to go for an old-fashioned solo walking tour, why not, this is the best city in the World to walk around. Where to start though!? Since the high-end Hotels are proclaiming to be top of the game for cocktails, that’s where I’ll start.
The first stop was the Caley, or Waldorf Caledonian as it is properly known, the place of my first job as a trainee manager back in the ice age! Anyway, it is also a Waldorf (claimed as the first to serve the famous cocktail at its namesake in NY). I sat in lovely Peacock Alley and waited for my first of the day after a prolonged wait (apparently needed to find someone skilled), it arrived with a wee bit of orange rind floating over the correct block of ice. I asked which bourbon was used and the charming young lady left, and returned a few minutes later with the answer; Woodford reserve! Well done, pleasant, light on bitters, no orange oil detected but all in all, pretty good.
Next, off to what used to be her sister hotel at the other end of Princes Street, The Balmoral. Formerly the Victorian North British. In the now deco-influenced bar, I grab a stool, one of the few available. I was pleasantly attended to by the suited-up deputy manager. I ordered and watch the preparation. Let’s just say, the service is the best of the day…although I could have done without the cherries! Correctly proportioned, correctly stirred, correct block ice, and orange rind rub made with the very acceptable Angels Envy. The result was very good. Hope filled with enthused anticipation, I follow off to the next venue.
It’s an uphill hike to Hotel du Vin. It plays double duty as I can have a cigar in their little Bothy, so that’s a bonus. I Settled down with my Placencia Orchant Seleccion as I awaited my third of the day. In the shelter of the windy weathered hut, I did sit next to the timer on the fireplace to assure continuity of comfort.
Now, this is one of my go-to spots in Edinburgh, so expected a good result. Unfortunately what arrived was rather void of flavor and my rather preoccupied waitress was unable to advise what the bourbon was. No matter, the small ice cubes were rapidly diluting what flavor may have been there.
Anyway, disappointed, I enjoyed the rest of my smoke and headed to Apex back at the east end of Edinburgh where I had a room. It’s a newish, rather slick minimalist hotel, but very trendy. So I thought maybe a trendy old fashioned? Oh boy, I should end it here because nothing to say but wow. Dreadful, watery demise of one of the greatest of cocktails. Poor Makers Mark couldn’t save this from the soulless presenter of libations…agh!
Ok, we shouldn’t go out on this note, so let me tell you of two brilliant Variations!
The Puffin Rooms; Old Tabashioned Late Hour with Stalla Dhu Islay and Perique Tabac Liqueur and smoked Bad Bitch Old Fashioned with rum of same name aged in the Gulf of Mexico soaked wine barrels made in Key West. Just wow.
Available at Cgars St James see Sam or fabulous Puffin Room in Liverpool where Lucy or Mark offer up superior-cocktail making skills
New or old, Sláinte to a cocktail for the generations.