Like most American cities (and several European ones), the Philadelphia bar scene has experienced in recent years a resurgence of the “speakeasy.” Unfairly christened a haunt for only hipsters, modern day speakeasies capture a golden age of American imperialism when cocktails were an art form, chivalry was alive and well, and “mixology” was a way of culinary life instead of a new (and often explained as such in the most sarcastic of voices) “science.” Buying into the Midnight in Paris-esque concept that everyone wants to live in a different time period than the one they are born, I would have picked the 1920s and places like Philadelphia’s Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., with its finely crafted lists of pre-prohibition cocktails and ingredients that haven’t appeared on menus in over a hundred years, helps me get there.
Aside from being voted one of (if not THE) best cocktail bars in the United States, Franklin Mortgage has probably the most creative and fascinating cocktail menu (and we all know I like a good cocktail name). Organized by “chapters” with titles such as “Rebellious Spirits” and “I Asked for Water, She Gave Me Gasoline” you’ll find heady, sophisticated drinks such as the Baroness (with crème de violette) or the Morning Glory Fizz (with egg white). But nothing is better at a place that knows cocktails quite like the Franklin than ordering a true classic such as a Hemingway Daquiri or my personal favorite, the ubiquitous Old Fashioned.
Old Fashioneds are one of those drinks that seem to be everywhere right now, but I like to think it has less to do with style and more to do with the fact that they’re just So. Damn. Good. Traditionally made with rye whiskey, the Old Fashioned took a detour into bourbon when rye went out of…well, fashion. Luckily, rye is once again gaining popularity (Fishtown’s Fette Sau has an entire rye tasting flight) and so I decided to make my own Old Fashioned using my favorite whiskey, Bulleit Rye.
1 sugar cube (or ½ teaspoon of loose sugar) – I like raw sugar in my Old Fashioned because it’s less absorbent. There’s nothing worse than a drink that’s too sweet.
3 dashes Angostura bitters – I also like Fee Brothers
Splash of club soda
2 oz. rye whiskey (or bourbon if you’re not a purist)
Orange peel garnish
Place sugar in bottom of Old Fashioned glass. Add three dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of club soda. Crush the sugar with muddler. Add ice. Top with whiskey and garnish.
A lot of people also garnish Old Fashioneds with a maraschino cherry which is super blasphemous. Extra fruit was added to the Old Fashioned during Prohibition to further mask that the drink was alcohol. Adding the cherry basically sends a message that you are a coward and scared of being arrested. I once made the mistake (it was ONE TIME) of adding a cherry to my Old Fashioned and was immediately lambasted by a male friend for “being less of a man” even though I am, in fact, a woman.