Get fancy with this classic riff on the grandaddy of cocktails. The Fancy Free cocktail is a classic Old Fashioned variation using maraschino liqueur instead of sugar.
If you’re looking for maraschino liqueur cocktails to enjoy that bottle of Luxardo, you can’t go wrong with the Fancy Free. Think of it as a Luxardo Old Fashioned.
Fancy Free Cocktail Recipe
- 1 Orange Peel
- Add all cocktail ingredients to mixing glass with cubed and cracked ice
- Stir with bar spoon for 30-45 seconds until chilled
- Strain into Old Fashioned glass with large clear ice cube
- Express the orange peel over the cocktail and drop it in.
- Put your large clear ice cube in your serving glass first, so it can warm up while you mix the cocktail. This prevents the ice from cracking.
- In your mixing glass, use a combination of 3/4 cubed ice and 1/4 cracked ice. To make cracked ice, hold one of your ice cubes over the mixing glass and whack it with the spoon-end of your bar spoon a few times. It will crack and fall into the mixing glass.
- To garnish an Old Fashioned-style cocktail, cut a strip of peel from your orange with the Y-peeler. Express the oils over your cocktail by squeezing the peel in half long-ways, wipe the rim of the glass with your orange peel, and drop it into the drink.
- If you want your peel to look perfect, trim it into shape with a knife before you garnish the cocktail.
Detailed Instructions and Notes
Put a large clear ice cube in a your serving glass before you start mixing the cocktail. This allows the surface of the ice to warm up while you’re mixing, so that beautiful clear ice doesn’t crack when your pour in the chilled drink.
I use the Clearly Frozen clear ice maker to make the perfect clear ice cubes for Old Fashioned style cocktails. I like this product because you can make ten 2-inch clear ice cubes at a time. Compared to other clear ice makers, the Clearly Frozen really saves on time and cost because you can make so many clear ice cubes at once.
Use a mixture of cubed ice and cracked ice in your mixing glass, aiming for 3/4 cubed ice and 1/4 cracked ice. Don’t obsess over this ratio – it’s a guideline. The idea is that the portion of cracked ice will chill your cocktail faster without adding too much water through dilution.
To crack ice, just take one of your ice cubes and hold it over your mixing glass. Whack it with the back of the spoon of your bar spoon. A couple good whacks will crack it and the pieces will fall into your mixing glass.
Stirring is a slower process than shaking. Stir the cocktail for 30-45 seconds until it’s ice cold.
There are a few ways to time your stirring. You can silently sing the “Happy Birthday” song 2-3 times, or you can develop a “feel” by leaving your index finger on the mixing glass, below the liquid level, and stirring until your finger is so cold it’s getting uncomfortable. Whatever you choose, make sure you stir until it’s cold. No one wants a lukewarm cocktail!
In Old Fashioned style cocktails, the orange peel is a functional garnish – that means it’s acting like an ingredient, not just looking pretty. The garnish is not optional in a Fancy Free cocktail.
Cut a strip of peel from your orange with the Y-peeler. Get a big, wide swath of peel. You can use a knife, but be careful not to cut too deep into the bitter pith (the white part under the skin).
Express the oils over your cocktail by squeezing the peel in half long-ways, wipe the rim of the glass with your orange peel, and drop it into the drink.
If you want your peel to be perfect, trim the edges with a knife.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Whiskey – Bourbon or Rye?
The Fancy Free cocktail, like the Old Fashioned, is all about the whiskey. Use whatever whiskey you like to drink!
I really enjoy the Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon, so I used it in the photos. I think the funky pot still taste pairs well with the earthy cherry wood flavor of the Luxardo Maraschino liqueur.
There is some evidence that the early 1900s Fancy Free used rye whiskey, but it was also a shaken cocktail served in a sugar-rimmed coupe!
The modern take on the Fancy Free remakes it as an Old Fashioned variation, and most recipes call for bourbon. But let your own taste be the guide.
If you can’t find the Balcones bourbon in your area, some major brands that I like are Old Forrester 86-proof, Larceny, Bulleit, and Maker’s Mark.
There are several maraschino liqueurs available, but I like Luxardo. Good maraschino is dry and earthy, with a hint of cherry. Stay away from overly sweet cordials.
Another brand I’ve enjoyed is Lazzaroni Maraschino liqueur.
Bitters are the salt and pepper of cocktails. They enhance both the aroma and the taste of cocktails by adding complex scents and flavors.
Angostura bitters are such a universal classic that you should keep them stocked in your bar. There are several options for Orange Bitters, including Regans, Fee Brothers, and an offering from the Angostura brand.
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