The old-fashioned is the granddaddy of sweater-weather cocktails. But for summer, bartenders are tailoring its best-known recipe – whiskey, sugar, bitters, water, and a twist – with less heavy spirits and fragrant garnishes. "It's a gateway drink," says Jillian Vose, head bartender at New York City's Death & Co., where their take, the Elder Fashioned, is one of the more popular orders. A velvety duo of Plymouth gin and elderflower liqueur – dubbed "bartender's ketchup" for its versatility and dynamic citrus profile – spiked with a dash of orange bitters and garnished with a grapefruit twist, the cocktail fuses masculine presentation with bright, breezy notes. To tweak your own old-fashioned, start with an ounce and a half of a light spirit and add a teaspoon of complementary sweetener (e.g., agave with tequila) until you hit just the right formula.
Stir in a mixing glass on ice. Strain over ice in a rocks glass with a grapefruit twist.