Happy Hour — a Rye/Maraschino Old Fashioned
It's time to make a Fancy Free.
In last week’s newsletter, I spent a few paragraphs on Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, which serves as a sweetening agent in a number of classic cocktails, including the Tuxedo No. 2. It’s an essential bottle for anyone intending to make the major classics — and some of the minors too. We’ll look at many more recipes that use it in the near future.
But for the moment, I want to slightly belabor a point I often make on this Substack: Like almost everything on your liquor shelf, maraschino liqueur goes quite well with Rittenhouse Rye. In particular, it pairs nicely in an Old Fashioned riff known as the Fancy Free.
Like all Old Fashioned-adjacent drinks, the Fancy Free is a three-part mix of spirit, sweetener, and bitters, with the maraschino liqueur playing the role of the sweetener. In its most common contemporary form, the drink has a slightly dry, slightly herbaceous, slightly fruity character; it’s an Old Fashioned with a cherry on top — except there’s no cherry.
I like this version, but I also find it a tad dry. So I add a tiny bit of rich simple (2:1 sugar:water) syrup to both sweeten and thicken the drink. There’s a kinda-sorta historical precedent for this: The drink, which dates back to 1940, wasn’t always an Old Fashioned-style cocktail. Originally, it was shaken and served up in a stemmed cocktail glass with a coated sugar rim. I don’t recommend the older preparation method, but I do think a hint of syrup mellows out this drink. You should feel free to try it both with and without the additional sugar.
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 tsp rich simple syrup (optional)
½ ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
Add ice, then stir until chilled.
Strain all ingredients into a rocks glass over a single large piece of ice.
Garnish with a strip of orange peel.