Cocktail Island: Old Fashioneds at The Tavern

At The Tavern, mixologist Jean Pierre Torrealba (a.k.a. JP) is taking this classic from another era and updating it for the contemporary palate. (Credit: Annette Hinkel)

At The Tavern, mixologist Jean Pierre Torrealba (a.k.a. JP) is taking this classic from another era and updating it for the contemporary palate. (Credit: Annette Hinkel)

The Old Fashioned. It’s a cocktail from another time …Think the 1960s and Don Draper in “Mad Men.”

But guess what? These days the Old Fashioned is, well, anything but.

At The Tavern, mixologist Jean Pierre Torrealba (a.k.a. JP) is taking this classic from another era and updating it for the contemporary palate.

JP’s version starts with a jigger of rye and a few shakes of Angostura Bitters followed by his own brown sugar simple syrup and a maraschino cherry. By the way, we’re not talking about those nuclear red, sickly sweet kind of cherries from our Shirley Temple days. The ones JP uses are the real deal — dark maroon in color — and he even swirls in some of that delectable juice to heighten the effect.

“I stir it together and then I rub the rim of the glass with a flaming orange skin,” says JP as he does exactly that. “What it does is it gets the oils — the orange essence — around the glass.”

JP tops his Old Fashioned off with an ice sphere, not a cube, because, he explains, it melts much more slowly.

The result is a smooth Old Fashioned that succeeds on many levels. The power of the rye is ever present, but it’s tempered nicely by the subtle infusion of the fruit flavors and the mellowness of JP’s subtle simple syrup recipe, which is one part brown sugar to two parts water, rather than the typical one to one ratio of most simple syrups.

All in all, it’s a retro-imagination that proves less is more and we can see JP’s Old Fashioned being the drink of choice as we head through fall and on into the chilly months ahead.

“The colder it gets, the nicer it gets,” grins JP.

The Tavern at Shelter Island House, 11 Stearns Point Road, Shelter Island Heights. (631) 749-5659. www.shelterislandhouse.com.