While may lean toward the classics, bartenders and mixologists everywhere are reshaping those ideas with creative concoctions and at the same time putting a modern spin on traditional drinks.
The Old Fashioned, for example. The drink is – was – made by muddling sugar with bitters, then adding alcohol (originally whisky) and a twist of citrus rind, served in a short, round, tumbler-like glass, which is called an Old Fashioned glass, named after the drink.
Then came along the Woodford Bourbon Trail earlier this year with its challenge to make an Old Fashioned with a twist. Using the basic ingredients as dictated by the, well, old-fashioned recipe, 16 of Cape Town and Joburg’s finest bars took part with The Twankey Bar and Sin & Tax coming out on top respectively.
AJ Snetler from The Twankey Bar at the Taj in Cape Town made his Old Fashioned distinct by serving it without ice, changing the glassware to create the illusion of temperature, and matching it with dark and white chocolate truffles; Jody Rahme of Sin & Tax paired award-winning Woodford Reserve bourbon with Fernet Branca (bitters) and a dash of dry vermouth.
He went even further by giving the judges – mixologist Johan Blaauw, Eat Out Magazine and social media influencer Sergio Ines – something to remember: “My experience of serving the judges was a fun and intimate one. Some sweet blues tunes playing in the background with the lights turned down and candles lit set the tone and I wanted the judges to walk into my bar as if they were customers about to order a drink from me,” says Rahme.
AJ Snetler, aka The Tattooed Bartender, has been fine tuning his craft at The Twankey Bar for 10 months now. “The inspiration behind my Old Fashioned was the old, smoky blues lounges and I am extremely proud to have taken this title for my team at The Twankey Bar,” he said, adding he believes the simplicity and change of conventional techniques is what set his Old Fashioned apart.
Recipe: Classic Old Fashioned
50 ml Woodford Reserve bourbon
1 tsp/5 ml brown sugar
2 dashes bitters
Orange zest garnish
Add sugar, bitters, 25ml Woodford Reserve into a mixing glass and half fill with ice.
Stir well, then add further 25ml Woodford Reserve and fill with ice.
Stir well and strain into a tumbler glass filled with ice. Garnish with fresh orange zest