A simple drink necessitating bitters, the Old Fashioned is a reliable and well worn classic. If you're looking for a different Old Fashioned, with some added flair and fall/winter vibes, this variation will breathe new life into your beloved stirred cocktail.
The Capricorn is a Maple Old Fashioned variation made with pear infused rye whiskey, maple syrup infused with fresh thyme, and herbaceous Bennett Wild Hunt Bitters. The stubborn Capricorn is determined to impress by following the Old Fashioned tradition of whiskey, sugar, and bitters, but elevated with unexpected elements.
This earthy flavored Maple Old Fashioned brings you back to nature with its herbal flavors. Pear flavor conjures the memory of falling leaves, while Wild Hunt Bitters walk you through an evergreen winter forest. All the drink ingredients are infused - a preservation of flavors; waiting for winter to end.
How to Make a Maple Old Fashioned?
The Old Fashioned is considered the original “cocktail." Back before the word cocktail was used as a catchall term referring to any mixed libation, it was a simple drink made by combining only three ingredients and stirring them with ice:
Spirit - Typically made with bourbon or rye. We infused two types of pears into rye for our Maple Old Fashioned. Rye's more robust and spicier flavor profile balances the sweetness of the pear making for a full bodied flavor profile.
Sweetener - Old fashioneds are classically made with simple syrup, sugar cubes, or Demerara syrup, depending on who you ask. For The Capricorn, we chose to use maple syrup for its earthy, rich flavor and infused it with thyme for a dark, almost nutty syrup with fresh herbaceous notes creating even greater complexity.
- Bitters - The Old Fashioned is a cocktail that cannot be made without bitters: it is the essential ingredient. The most common bitters used for Old Fashioneds are Angostura bitters with their reliable baking spice aromatics. We used Wild Hunt Bitters to impart the Maple Old Fashioned with forest flavors: roots, bark, florals, fresh rain or fallen snow.
With so few ingredients to modify, creating a unique and different Old Fashioned without breaking the original template can be a challenge. We kept the classic three ingredients the same, but infused fall and winter flavor notes into those ingredients. The result is a journey of winter time wilderness flavor true to the Old Fashioned's roots.
How to Use Maple Syrup in an Old Fashioned
There are more options for sweetener than just sugar. You can use maple syrup straight out of the bottle as an alternative to the traditional sugar syrup, using a tsp or a ¼ oz per 2 oz of spirit. Or you can make a syrup that is even easier to pour.
To make our Maple Old Fashioned with delicious thyme maple syrup, we used equal parts maple syrup and water, as water increases the extraction of thyme's herbal aromas.
Tip: This thyme maple syrup also tastes amazing when used in making homemade sodas or flavoring festive fall and wintertime lemonades. Add a little to hot or iced tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.
Bourbon vs. Rye Old Fashioneds
Both bourbon and rye are American whiskeys. What makes them different is the combination of grains they are made from. Whiskey's composition of grains is referred to as its “mash bill.”
Both bourbon and rye can be made from a blend of wheat, barley, rye, and corn. To be legally called bourbon the mash bill must be at least 51% corn, while rye whiskey has to be at least 51% rye.
As bourbon is high in corn, it tends to have a sweet, mellow flavor that is popular for old fashioneds. For The Capricorn Maple Old Fashioned, we chose rye as its darker flavor profile offers a great backbone for infusion with sweet and floral ingredients like pears.
Rittenhouse: Found behind most bars, Rittenhouse is one of the most well balanced rye whiskeys on the market. Some ryes carry intense notes of caraway and dill that could easily overpower the nuance of the pear. Rittenhouse is slightly sweet and its spice notes are more mellow, making it a friendly spirit for highlighting infused flavors. Also, its high proof makes it ideal for capturing the flavor of fresh fruit with infusion.
Michter's Rye: A little on the pricier side but well worth it if you're making an Old Fashioned. The spice and butterscotch notes in Michter's blend flawlessly with the syrup and bitters making an Old Fashioned your guests will demand the recipe for. Similar to Rittenhouse, its high proof makes Michter's an ideal candidate for infusing fresh fruit.
Old Overholt: Low in price but high in quality, Old Overholt delivers a full bodied flavor profile that works exceptionally well as a mixing rye. With a relatively mellow spice flavor, this is a great rye for a bourbon drinker or someone who prefers their Old Fashioneds sweeter but still robust.
Maple Old Fashioned Ingredients
We suggest you use organic ingredients whenever possible. Here's what you'll need to make this Maple Old Fashioned recipe:
Pear Infused Rye Whiskey -
Forgoing the sweet character of corn heavy bourbon, we chose rye for this pear infused whiskey. Rye's dark, rich flavor contrasts and brings balance to the sweetness of the pears. But you can make the Capricorn Maple Old Fashioned with bourbon if you prefer it, or don't have rye.
When it came to pears, we couldn't choose just one. We used Bartlett pears for their bright and sweet flavor and Bosc pears for their complex, spice-like flavor.The flavor imparted by pears adds a depth and dimension to the rye, creating a profile reminiscent of a single malt scotch.
Tip! This part of the cocktail must be made at least 3 days in advance. It will take a minimum of 3 days for the pear flavor to transfer into the rye, and we prefer to leave it for 5-7 days. Simply strain out the pears and transfer to a vessel that is easy to pour from.
Thyme Infused Maple Syrup -
Thyme is an herb with a mellow and flexible flavor that works easily with both savory and sweet recipes. It's one of our favorite go to herbs for drinks and food.
Fresh thyme sprigs are essential to make this Maple Old Fashioned syrup. Dry thyme has lost many of its most delicious flavors that you can clearly smell when using fresh thyme. Those amazing smells come from the essential oil in fresh herbs, which will infuse into the syrup as you heat it up.
If you don't have access to fresh thyme, but are determined to make the Maple Old Fashioned, here are some tips for substituting dry herbs for fresh ones.
We use robust dark maple syrup for a bold, earthy Maple Old Fashioned. Dark syrup imparts rich maple flavor, increasing the fall/winter vibes of this variation. Using a light syrup will give you less of that characteristic maple flavor, but will suffice if you're in a pinch.
Our favorite maple syrup is from a sustainable and organic, family owned farm in Vermont. Their syrup is truly the best, get it here.
Wild Hunt Bitters -
The aromatics of our herbal bitters are a little unconventional, but ingredients like Devils Club and Icelandic Moss provide nutty notes with green and floral aromas, that elevate the more familiar flavors of pear and thyme in this Maple Old Fashioned.
Full of flavors found deep in the wilderness, Wild Hunt Bitters deliver warm and woodsy tasting notes that pair perfectly with the wintery energy of this cocktail. It's hard to describe the exact flavor of this ephemeral bitters; in this Maple Old Fashioned it evokes the smell of fresh fallen snow. It needs to be tasted to be believed.
Don't know how to measure bitters? Check out our blog on all things bitters here: What Are Bitters?
Make Pear Infused Rye
Combine ½ Bosc pear with ½ Bartlett pear in a pint jar.
Pour rye over pears, until both pears are completely submerged.
Refrigerate for at least three days (up to 5-7 days).
Strain out rye with a sieve and cheesecloth, and transfer to a serving vessel or bottle.
Make Thyme Maple Syrup
Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool and strain into a jar with a sieve and cheesecloth.
Store in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
Make Maple Old Fashioned
Combine all ingredients into a mixing pitcher with ice.
Stir and strain onto a large ice cube in a rocks glass.
Garnish with pear slice and fresh thyme. Serve and enjoy!
Standard Drinks: 1.33