For the bourbon cocktail connoisseur, life is often about searching for the perfect Old Fashioned. Of course, it’s an impossible task, as there are too many delicious bourbon expressions and twists on the classic cocktail formulation to find a singular “perfect” glass. (Though in this instance, the journey is just as fun as the destination.) With so many exceptional takes on the Old Fashioned, our favorite variations are often those that reimagine the drink for an altogether new atmosphere. For example, could the right Old Fashioned pair with (or even replace) a classic brunch tea?
Leave it to whiskey mixologist Heather Wibbels — also known as the Cocktail Contessa — to develop a drink that blends the Old Fashioned’s classic sweetness with flavors that fit whether it’s morning, noon, or night. Her Early Grey Old Fashioned is designed to pair with a late breakfast or early brunch, though we wouldn’t fault anyone for sipping it well into the evening.
Wibbels is based in Kentucky, near the heart of The Bourbon Trail, and she spends a good bit of her time creating fresh takes on classic bourbon cocktails. This one is as refreshing as it is satisfying, with notes of tea and citrus on the finish.
The Earl’s Bourbon Cocktail
2 oz. Woodford Reserve or Four Roses Small Batch bourbon
.5 oz. Earl Grey simple syrup (recipe below)
2 dashes Earl Grey bitters 1821 bitters
1 dash Meyer lemon bitters (optional)
Combine bourbon, syrup and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange or lemon peel.
To make Earl Grey Simple Syrup
1 cup boiling water
2-3 Earl Grey tea bags
1 cup sugar
Brew the tea in the hot water. After removing the tea bags, add the sugar and shake or stir until the sugar is dissolved. Store in a clean glass jar in the fridge.