The Old Fashioned is about as classic a cocktail as you can get. It’s the literal definition of “cocktail,” as it features a mix of spirits, sugar, bitters and ice. Because of that flexible template, though, an Old Fashioned provides ample opportunity for alterations. This one comes by way of the Rosina in the Palazzo at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, an opulent hotel bar that draws guests in with its art deco vibe and keeps them there with its extensive craft cocktail menu. Sweeter and richer than your average Old Fashioned, the Kentucky River is an unconventional but appealing take on the classic, full of chocolate and fruit notes.
While most Old Fashioned recipes tend to be drier and more spirit-forward, the Kentucky River is gentler and sweeter thanks to its substitutions. It still starts with bourbon, though, like many Old Fashioneds. The Palazzo at the Venetian uses Buffalo Trace, but feel free to substitute with whatever your favorite bourbon is. Don’t be afraid to substitute a rye whiskey, either, as the additional heat and spice will balance the drink’s sweetness.
The biggest deviation from the base recipe is in how the drink is sweetened. Rather than using the traditional simple syrup (or even a sugar cube), the Kentucky River calls for a half-ounce of creme de cacao. This sweet and creamy liqueur gives the drink a rich, chocolatey nuance. And rather than the more commonplace Angostura bitters, it takes a few dashes of peach bitters. The bitters won’t affect the sweetness of Kentucky River, but they do emphasize the fruitiness of it, rather than balance it with the spice of Angostura bitters. The result won’t win over every palate, but those who appreciate richer drinks will likely love this as an after-dinner libation.
2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon
1/2 ounce Tempus Fugit creme de cacao
3 dashes peach bitters
Garnish: lemon twist
Add the bourbon, creme de cacao and bitters into a double Old Fashioned glass with a large 2-inch ice cube and stir until well-chilled.
Garnish with a lemon twist.