Monday, January 18, 2016


Okay so I'll start here: I'm not usually one for celebrating innocuous but not particularly historic holidays. However, when it's a day that encourages imbibing historic cocktails? Just tell me where and when and if I should bring my own glass.

And wouldn't you know it, yesterday was National Bootlegger's Day. As you might know, Prohibition officially became the law of the land on January 16, 1920. Out in Iowa, an enterprising man named Alphonse Kerkhoff began producing high-quality whisky known as Templeton Rye (in the town of Templeton, natch). It soon became the liquor of choice for American gangster Al Capone, and central to his bootlegging empire. This whiskey-soaked holiday happens to fall on Capone's birthday, so you see it all fits together nicely.

To celebrate, I gathered a few friends for an Old Fashioned happy hour. Templeton Rye was kind enough to supply us with "The Good Stuff," and I supplied the rest. One of the reasons I love the Old Fashioned is that it doesn't involve anything too complicated, just a bit of upper arm strength and only slightly more patience than is required when assembling a mixed drink.

To give our little party some options, I supplied both lemon and orange as garnish (absolutely no maraschino cherries, guys), as well as club soda for those desiring a splash. To keep things classic (and make Al Capone proud, I hope), I went with Angostura Bitters.

To make our Old Fashioneds, I looked to two authoritative sources for tried-and-true (only slightly varied) methods: The New York Times and Esquire. A few dashes of bitters and a splash of club soda muddled with one sugar cube makes the base, followed by a generous pour of rye. Personally, I like to line my glass with orange, and use one of those gigantic square ice cubes when possible.

I don't think I need to tell you guys this, but just in case—celebrate responsibly :)

Huge thanks to Templeton Rye!

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