Infuse Bourbon With Dates For An Elevated Old Fashioned

Classic cocktails like an old fashioned don't require much in the way of improvements. This satisfying sipper of bitters, simple syrup, and whiskey such as rye or bourbon served over ice is a nearly perfect pour, and when garnished with an orange twist, it's an unbeatable nightcap. Yet for those who prefer a touch of sweetness in their drinks, a hint of fruity flavor can make an old fashioned even better.

To add a touch of natural, caramelized sweetness to your old fashioned without having to use extra sugar, add dates to your bourbon and let it infuse. There are so many kinds of dates that you're sure to find a type that combines well with your favorite bourbon. After experimenting with this fruity infusion, you may find yourself reaching for dates more frequently to flavor other cocktails you mix up at your home bar. 

You can flavor bourbon with dates using a few easy methods. You can try leaving whole pieces of the fruit to soak in the alcohol for several weeks, or you can combine the fruit and bourbon in a blender and strain before using.  Admittedly, the former method requires some planning in advance. Infusions can take at least two weeks to reach their full flavor potential, and the longer you let your dates bathe in their bath of bourbon, the sweeter your booze will become. Any way you choose to use them, the addition of flavorful dates can take your classic cocktail recipes to sweeter heights.

A new taste for a familiar recipe

To infuse the bourbon, put in a jar with about 15 dates and store it in a cool, dry place for at least two weeks and up to a month or longer. You'll want to sample your brew every few days, until the alcohol takes on a level of fruity and caramelized taste that you enjoy. Once your bourbon has been infused to your liking, strain out the dates and any residual bits using a coffee filter or sieve, then get ready to make cocktails that will have all your friends asking for your bartending secrets.

To whip up an excellent date-forward old fashioned, just replace the standard whiskey with your homemade date liquor and enjoy an even richer take on the classic. The date flavor complements the bitters and classic fruity garnishes of a maraschino cherry or orange twist. Once you've experimented with infusing bourbon with dates, you can try adding split vanilla beans or dried Mission figs to the alcohol as well. The old fashioned drinks you make using the infused bourbon will taste refreshingly different and totally unexpected.

If you can't be bothered to infuse dates in bourbon at home, just chop up the dried fruit and shake in your cocktail shaker with your other ingredients, then strain it out. You can also use date syrup. Beyond the aforementioned cherry and orange, try garnishing date-infused cocktails with dried pineapple, a stick of cinnamon, or a whole Medjool date, and get ready to enjoy the literal fruits of your labor.