Thursday, October 9, 2008
Mr. Draper drinks rye.
Ever have a drink or two while watching TV? I know I do. Sometimes I’m absentmindedly sipping whatever happens to be handy while channel surfing. Other times I make a point of having a specific drink (or type of drink) that seems appropriate for what I’ll be watching. Certain shows just demand it. Mad Men is one of those shows.
To allay any fears, I’ll state right now that I will not be rambling on for several paragraphs about the show. There are tons of places you can go to read people rhapsodizing about how great it is. If you’re a fan, you understand the fuss. If you’re not, it’s unlikely any amount of gushing will make you a convert.
Personally, I’m a devotee. I happen to think it’s far and away the best thing on television right now, and it’s one of few shows I never miss. And I never miss it with a drink.
Sometimes it’s a Martini. Sometimes it’s a Mai Tai. I think I had a few Cuba Libres once, but don’t hold me to it. However, I do know that I’ve had rye on the rocks on more than one occasion, and realized during one particular episode that it was the spirit of choice on both sides of the screen that night.
So in a nod to a show that masterfully combines detail and restraint, I suggest indulging in a drink that does the same: The Old-Fashioned. (made with rye, naturally)
1.5 oz. rye
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
One orange slice
In an old-fashioned glass (convenient, eh?) muddle the orange slice, sugar cube and bitters. Drop in 2 or 3 large ice cubes, add rye and stir.
What can be said about a classic like this that hasn’t already been said before by people far better at it than I am? Suffice to say that if you make it correctly, you’ll know. As for which rye to use, I believe personal preference should be the order of the day. I tried three: Wild Turkey, Old Overholt, and Sazerac 6-year old. The Bird is smooth, the Double-O is piercing, and the Baby Saz is like a warm, soft blanket. All of them work well.
I should note that the recipe shown above is a hybrid of those listed in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails and Hollinger & Schwartz’s The Art of the Bar. It suits my taste, and I feel it’s faithful to the original intent of the drink. Like other members of the classic cocktail canon, there is considerable debate over what constitutes an authentic, accurate Old-Fashioned…and I’m not going to throw gas on that fire.
Of course, you could always do away with silly things like recipes and just put some goddamn rye in a glass and drink it. If it’s good enough for Mr. Draper, it’s certainly good enough for the likes of you.