My great grandfather, Emil, owned a steakhouse named “The Red Chimney” in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 60s. It is easy to imagine what it looked like–red leather banquettes, a long, dark wood bar and rooms filled with smoke. The men would be dressed in suit and ties, the women would have boldly printed shifts, pearl chokers and beehives or Jackie Kennedy flips. There would have a lot of talking, laughter, ice tinkling in glasses, and usually West Coast Jazz, like these songs, which were recorded at The Red Chimney:
The menu, I’m guessing, had some classics from the era–Iceberg Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing, Shrimp Cocktail, Steak Diane, Creamed Spinach, Grasshopper Pie, Bananas Foster. My mother recalls that there were two unusual things on the menu– the first was the cheese bread delivered to the table, which used exotic (for the time) foreign cheeses. The second departure from the norm were grilled portobello mushrooms, which for a time when people were still boiling asparagus for 25 minutes, were a cutting edge menu item.
I think it is also safe to assume that the bar served up plenty of Martinis, Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. Here is my version–it is not my great grandfather’s Old Fashioned. I used tangerine (instead of lemon or orange), fancy cherries and Amaro (instead of bitters) because Amaro is fantastically good and I basically find any excuse to drink it. I figure if Emil could serve fancy cheeses and giant mushrooms, I can innovate an old classic. And whistle while I work.
Not So Old Fashioned
- 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup
- 1 tsp
maraschino cherry juice
- 1 tsp
- 1/8 cup
tangerine peel twists
- Muddle the tangerine, cherry juice and sugar in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Muddle the heck out of it. Get out your aggression.
- Add about 2 cups crushed ice, whisky and Amaro. Shake.
- Pour into Old Fashioned glasses (with the ice). Pour the club soda on top.
- Garnish with cherry and twist.