5 Tips for an Old Fashioned from Marcis Dzelzainis of Sager + Wilde

by Forest Collins

London has a long history with the Old Fashioned cocktail, with their own spins and approaches. So, we caught up with one of city’s best barmen, Marcis Dzelzainis, for his tips this classic.

Marcis has a very interesting background. This half-English, half-Latvian barman grew up in France and chose to follow a course of study in Religious Philosophy at Brighton. Eventually bar work during his studies went from being a part time job to a full time passion as he changed course and decided to pursue a career in hospitality.

He has amassed an impressive list of credits and been involved in opening some of London’s most well-loved bars. He has either held positions at and/or helped open the likes of Lab, Zetter Townhouse, Quo Vadis, Satan’s Whiskers and Dandelyan. Lately, you’re likely to find him mixing Old Fashioneds and creating cocktail menus behind the bar at at Sager + Wilde Paradise Rowe. And most recently, along with Michael Sager he took on the project of revamping the Corinthia Hotel’s Bassoon Bar, which has just opened to much anticipation.

He’s not only known in London but internationally as well, having worked for a stint at le Coq in Paris and represented the UK in the 2010 Havana Club International Cocktail Grand Prix in Havana – where he took first place!

He’s also the director of Abacus Drinks, a consultancy business that focuses cocktails, mixology and drinks.

Clearly Marcis has some stellar cocktail cred and is well worth listening to when he shares these five tips for the perfect Old Fashioned:

1. Add a touch of Demerara sugar to the sugar syrup.

2. Keep the bourbon in the freezer; it stops the Old Fashioned from over diluting.

3. Always make Old Fashioneds a touch under diluted, so they will be perfect when they hit the table.

4. Don’t bother with sugar cubes – sugar syrup is much better.

5. Make sure to use a good orange with tight skin and plenty of oils for the garnish.


Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned

50ml Woodford Reserve
7.5ml Simple Sugar Syrup (a mix of 1:1 water and sugar)
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 Orange Twist

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Give it a few stirs, express the orange peel over it and enjoy.

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