It’s cold outside and that means I fall back to variations on tried and true cocktails that use brown liquors. Bourbon, rye, brandy, and rum top the list of things I want to drink when the weather is cold. To me, there are no bitters that have more of a winter feel to them than the Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Old Fashioned Bitters.
These bitters are a modified version of the classic Old Fashioned bitters from Fee Brothers, aged in recently emptied American whiskey barrels. The regular Old Fashioned bitters have similar qualities to Angostura, but with much more pronounced notes of cinnamon and allspice. The barrel aged version strays even further from the obvious Angostura comparison, lending a slight smoky note as well as a smoother mouthfeel and finish.
Both the regular Old Fashioned and the Whiskey Barrel Aged Old Fashioned Bitters can be used in cocktails that use Angostura, but beware the subtle changes that it will impart.
For my experiment I wanted to build an old fashioned, modifying it to highlight the winter allspice and cinnamon notes found in these bitters. To do that, I started with rye whiskey for a little bit of bite, added brown sugar (instead of granulated or simple syrup), Whiskey Barrel Aged Old Fashioned Bitters, and 1/4 oz of Barolo Chinato. Barolo Chinato is similar to vermouth, but instead of starting with a nondescript base wine, the process begins with Barolo, a heralded red wine from Italy. The wine is infused with quinine, along with countless other herbs and spices and the final product is rich, complex, dry and freaking amazing.
2 oz Rittenhouse Rye (100 proof bottled in bond)
1/4 oz Barolo Chinato
1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Old Fashioned Bitters
1 teaspoon brown sugar
To make, soak the sugar with the bitters and let them sit and get happy for a few moments. Add the Barolo Chinato and Rittenhouse and stir to combine. Strain over new ice (I recommend a giant cube, like the one below) and garnish with a lemon twist.