A Kentucky Old Fashioned

This week’s giveaway is The Old Fashioned: An Essential Guide to the Original Whiskey Cocktail by Albert W. A. Schmid. Make sure to enter our giveaway below by Friday, March 29th at 1PM for a chance to bring home this fun companion of cocktail history and recipes.


It may be snowing outside today, but the First Saturday in May is only a little over a month away! With an event so steeped in Kentucky history, it is only appropriate to get in the “spirit” of the event with a classic Kentucky cocktail. Though many people think of the Mint Julep as the Kentucky Derby’s signature cocktail, it turns out that our state’s claim to the cocktail world may be even more fundamental than that. If legend is to be believed, Kentucky is the state that invented the first cocktail, or at least gave it its name: the Old Fashioned.

As Albert W. A. Schmid recounts in Chapter 2 of his book The Old Fashioned, many books and newspaper articles attribute the first Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail to an unnamed bartender at Louisville’s own, The Pendennis Club. Founded in 1881, the members of the private club in downtown Louisville have proudly adopted the Old Fashioned and given it a home. From there, it’s said that the Old Fashioned made its way to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, taken there by none other than Pendennis Club member, James E. Pepper, noted distiller and horse breeder.

Today, amid the resurgence of interest in craft cocktails, The Old Fashioned has made its way back onto the bar scene. Made by many a bartender with just a sugar cube, dash of bitters, a healthy dose of Bourbon Whiskey (or Rye if you please), and a hint of orange for garnish, the Old Fashioned marks a return to traditional cocktail-making, leaving all its overly-complicated cousins in its wake. So this May, when you’re looking for a cocktail to accompany the Run for the Roses, a classic Kentucky Old Fashioned may just be the drink to beat.

Recipe for the Pendennis Club Old Fashioned Cocktail from Chapter 3 of The Old Fashioned.

Using an old-fashioned glass, crush a small lump of sugar in just enough water to dissolve thoroughly. Add one dash of Angostura and two dashes of orange bitters. Add large cube of ice and one jigger of whiskey. Twist and drop in lemon peel, and stir until mixed thoroughly. Remove ice and garnish with cherry.


One thought on “A Kentucky Old Fashioned

  1. Pingback: Which Came First: The Bourbon or the Rye? | The University Press of Kentucky

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