Whitehall's No. 10 Courtesy of Whitehall
When it comes to cocktails, it doesn’t get much simpler than the old fashioned: spirit (typically rye or bourbon), bitters, sweetener and citrus. The uncomplicated nature of the drink makes it a fantastic blank canvas for bartenders. “The old fashioned is arguably one of the oldest cocktails,” says John McCarthy, the beverage director of New York City’s Scotch-centric Highlands and gin-focused Whitehall. “What’s great is that you can change all the elements and just mix and match.” McCarthy created three riffs on the old fashioned for his fall menus.
At Highlands, the warming 1588 combines smoky Macallan 15 Single Malt Scotch, rich Brugal 1888 rum, dark agave syrup, housemade orange bitters and orange zest. At Whitehall McCarthy features two updates: the fruity No. 11 made with vanilla-infused bourbon, Angostura bitters and a tart cherry syrup and, his most divergent take on the classic, the No. 10, a gin old fashioned using rose-scented Nolet’s gin, orange bitters, honey syrup and orange peel. Of the No. 10, McCarthy says: “It’s all about being floral without being perfume-y like lavender, and boozy without being astringent.” Nolet's also adds flavors of peach and raspberry, but they don’t make the drink sweet. "You can sip on the No. 10 and feel tough,” he says.
McCarthy sees the old fashioned as a meeting point in the evolution of men and women’s drinking habits. “Men are more willing to have a cocktail now and women are drinking a lot more straight liquor on the rocks.” he says. “The guys are allowing something new in their life and the girls aren’t afraid to order a more savory, stronger, stiffer cocktail.”