Friday, June 14, 2013

Cocktail of the Week: The Fancy Free

And then there are the drinks where you don’t have much to say about them other than: I like this one, you should try it. Although it is appropriate for June 14, which is National Bourbon Day.

The Fancy Free had fallen out of my home bartending repertoire. I was reminded of it by Lesley M. M. Blume’s recent book Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition, and it’s worked its way into the rotation again. Few drinks serve as a better showcase for maraschino, the clear spirit distilled in Italy from sour cherries and typically found in a lanky bottle with a base swaddled in straw. It has hints of sweetness – Ernest Hemingway preferred it in his daiquiri in place of sugar – balanced by notes of almond, and no other commonly used modifier so says ‘cocktail’ to me. The Fancy Free rightly gives it center stage.

The recipe apparently first appears in the immortally titled Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion (1941). Crosby suggests an unnecessarily fussy presentation, serving it like a Sidecar in a glass with a sugared rim. The Fancy Free is essentially a variation on the Old Fashioned, with maraschino subtly substituting for muddled sugar or simple syrup, and some contemporary adherents treat it thusly, pouring it over ice in a tumbler. I split the difference and enjoy mine up, skipping the added business on the glass’s rim. Bourbon and maraschino complement each other so well they don’t require accessories.

The Fancy Free

2 oz. bourbon
½ oz. maraschino
dash of Angostura bitters
dash of orange bitters

Stir. Strain. No garnish.