There are times when only a manly, purist cocktail will do, whether you’re a bloke’s bloke, a girlie girl or something subtly in between. We’ve been thinking about bourbon recently in this context, and hankering after a good Old-Fashioned. But where to find one? It had to be somewhere a little old-school, fashionably so… Mayfair, definitely. The Connaught. Yes, indeed.
Rusty Cerven, debonair bartender at the Connaught Bar (the hotel has two bars, each with its own debonair bartenders) offers us the choice of several whiskies, and we go for the Four Roses bourbon. ‘An Old-Fashioned is so called because it was one of the first mixed drinks,’ he tells us, combining the bitters. (Two dashes of angostura, two dashes of orange bitters). ‘It’s a true classic, and ours is made with nothing but spirit, water, sugar and bitters.’
The bar glitters in exactly the heady, cinematic way we were hoping for. Rusty’s accoutrements are polished and covetable – especially the little blue bitters flask he found at a fleamarket – and watching him do his thing is really whetting our thirst.
‘If you have good quality spirits, you need good-quality everything else,’ he says, wrestling with a foot-wide slab of ice. ‘Ice cubes are too quick to dissolve.’ What’s more, the sphere he sculpts painstakingly, deftly wielding an ice pick, looks gorgeous in the glass.
It’s a perfect sharpener, a beauty of a drink, as manly as they come – even with a vermouth-infused cherry on top. Thank you, Rusty.