Whitetail Hunting photo

Draper and I have been talking about adding another regular on the blog — something to help wash down all of the great game and fish that’s served here. So, we present The Toast. Every now and then we’ll bring reviews, recipes and stories of our favorite drinks (and, no, not all will be booze) to enjoy with a meal or just to celebrate a good day outdoors.

I’ll kick The Toast off with some notes about a new whiskey I was lucky to enjoy over the last month: Crown Royal Black. I’m definitely more of a bourbon and rye guy, but I enjoy Canadian whiskey now and then. I’ve always liked classic Crown — but now I like Black more.

Black (90 proof) is stronger than Crown Royal (80 proof), and, as it’s name suggests, is darker in color — thanks to the added oak flavor. The whiskey is a little sweet, with notes of maple and vanilla. And, man, is it smooth. A couple Fridays ago, at the end of the workday, a few of us at the office enjoyed a drink of Black, neat. We were all impressed by how easy it went down.

I was curious how Black would work in a cocktail, so last night, with the last of my bottle, I mixed an Old Fashioned. I took one sip and wished I’d used the entire bottle for this cocktail. It was bold. It was smooth. It was balanced. I mean, it was really good. If only I could’ve made another…

I’ve written about the Old Fashioned before, but what follows is what I’ve found to be the absolute perfect recipe. (The “research” was grueling, let me tell you.) I hope you enjoy.

The (Perfect) Old Fashioned

1/4 ounce rich simple syrup*
3 dashes Angostura bitters
2 ounces Crown Royal Black (or a good rye or bourbon)
Orange peel for garnish
*Unlike simple syrup, which is equal parts sugar and water, a rich simple syrup is two parts sugar to one part water. Add two cups of turbinado sugar and one cup water to a sauce pan. Heat over medium low, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the syrup shows signs of boiling, remove it from the heat and let cool. The syrup will last about a month._

Add the syrup and bitters to a rocks glass and stir. Add the whiskey. Add ice (preferably one large block) and stir about 20 to 30 times, or until you feel the outside of the glass turn cold. Let the cocktail sit.

In the meantime, cut a chunk of peel from an orange. (You want the peel only. The white pith will make the drink bitter.) Hold the peel over the glass, and squeeze the oils in to the drink. Then run the peel around the rim of the glass before dropping it into the drink. Stir the cocktail a couple more times. Cheers.