If you happened to see my snaps or Instagram stories on Saturday night when we were making cocktails with our friends who were visiting from out of town, you got a glimpse of my favorite go-to drink these days. I've always been a bourbon gal, and when the holidays are creeping up I get excited for Old Fashioned season. Well, I drink them all year but they're just extra perfect in the winter - maybe it's that burn. The star of this version is the Toasted Pecan bitters which gives it an extra Thanksgiving-y vibe. It's by Miracle Mile and can be purchased at Cocktail Lab if you're in LA. Otherwise, you can get it online or check your local beverage store. Feel free to try another festive flavor of bitters too! You can't really mess it up.
Considering that the holidays are best enjoyed with friends and family, I got to thinking... How can we make this Old Fashioned group friendly? If you're serving drinks to about four people, mixing each one individually is no biggie. But when you've got say six or more people relying on you to get their drink on, it starts to feel like you're playing bartender more than enjoying the party. So I always say the best party drinks are the ones guests can easily serve themselves. This usually means a punch of some sort, and don't get me wrong there are a LOT of amazing punches out there (like this one). But sometimes you just want a classic, strong bourbon drink without all the fluff, amiright? So I made it my mission to adapt this one to a group setting, and here's what I came up with.
There are a few secret items that will make the Old Fashioned party friendly:
1/ Large cubic ice cubes. You can buy the molds almost anywhere - I used a rubber tray from Target (the ones in the glasses are from a smaller cube tray but for the bowl I used this one), or you can buy pre-made cubes at some beverage supply stores. The bigger the better.
2/ Small punch bowl or pitcher. It can't be too big or you'll need too much bourbon in order to make it feel somewhat full. A little goes a long way. I found this perfect little guy at Target, and what you see in here is basically two whole bottles of bourbon.
3/ Small old fashioned glasses. You don't want guests over serving themselves with this one, because it's basically all bourbon with only a few dashes of other things. Keeping it to smaller portions will help people pace themselves and keep the cocktail going for longer without needing to be refilled. The large ice cubes will help with this as well.
2oz good bourbon, like Woodford Reserve or Bulleit
.5 oz simple syrup
3-4 dashes of Toasted Pecan bitters
Large ice cube
Orange peel and thyme sprig (optional) for garnish.
Rub orange peel over the rim of your glass. In a beaker, briskly stir ingredients with ice, then strain into the glass over fresh ice.
1 - 750ml bottle (25oz) of good bourbon
7 oz simple syrup
Large ice cubes
36-48 dashes of Toasted Pecan bitters (I know it's a lot of dashes but it's better than pouring a lump amount in because dashes will blend better. Just do a little dance while you dash and keep count)
Orange peels for garnish in each glass, and a few for the bowl
Thyme sprigs for garnishes in each glass
Stir ingredients together in the bowl with big cubes of ice. Keep some fresh cubes out for guests to add to their glasses before ladling the drink in. Pre-place the garnishes in each glass on the table so they are ready to go. Guests will ideally stir the bowl again before serving themselves so the syrup doesn't settle on the bottom. Keep the bitters out in case anyone wants another dash or two!
And that's it! Let me know if you make this on Thanksgiving, or what you end up drinking instead!