The old fashioned is a classic cocktail that is generally made with bourbon, sugar and bitters. Those simple ingredients produce a flavorful drink, and also serve as a great jumping off point for variations on the theme. When you go to a cocktail bar, you’ll probably spot some twist on this drink on the menu and it is just as easy to put your own twist on it at home if you feel like playing around. This Harvest Spice Old Fashioned uses bourbon, applejack (an apple brandy; Laird’s is the most recognizable brand), pumpkin butter, cinnamon simple syrup and bitters that really captures the flavor of fall in a glass.
I have used pumpkin puree in cocktails and coffee drinks before, but there are some drawbacks to using plain puree. The biggest drawback is the texture, as it can be fiberous – and you definitely don’t want that in a cocktail. Pumpkin butter, on the other hand, is velvety smooth and usually has both sugar and spices added to it. You can make your own or use storebought (it’s easy to find at most grocery stores this time of year), and it mixes in with the other ingredients easily. The pumpkin also gives the cocktail a little bit of body, so it has a rich mouthfeel and lots of flavor without too much additional sweetness.
I honestly wrestled with the name of this cocktail quite a bit, though it is a very straightforward one, because there are so many delicious flavors in here. You can clearly taste the honeyed pumpkin butter, as well as a nice amount of spice from the simple syrup and the bitters (Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned). There is also a distinct apple note from the applejack, which ties in just as nicely with those same spices. That is why I oped for the name Harvest Spice Old Fashioned, which touches on all the flavors in the cocktail.
Serve this drink up at a fall dinner, Halloween or Thansgiving. The seasonal flavors are delightful and this cocktail should be a hit both with guests who love bourbon and with guests who love pumpkin, but might have some hesitations with a bourbon-based cocktail.
Harvest Spice Old Fashioned
1 1/2 oz bourbon (I used Four Roses)
1/2 oz Lairds Applejack
1 tbsp pumpkin butter
1/2 oz cinnamon simple syrup
2 dashes angostura bitters
2-3 inch strip orange peel, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until well-chilled (about 15 seconds), then strain into a rocks glass with a single large ice cube or a few small ice cubes.
Express the orange peel over the top of the drink by quickly folding it in half, skin side towards the drink, to mist it with orange oil. Drop orange peel into the drink for garnish.