The Old Fashioned is one of those special cocktails that, despite its name, never goes out of style. Invented in the late eighteenth century by American tavern owners, this drink has remained one of the most popular and successful cocktails of all time, rivaling even those staples like the martini.
Even one of America’s favorite love-to-hate television characters—Don Draper from Mad Men— is an Old Fashioned enthusiast:
For a comprehensive look at the history of one of America’s favorite cocktail and its influences, check out UPK’s book The Old Fashioned: An Essential Guide to the Original Whiskey Cocktail by Albert W. A. Schmid, available here.
Schmid profiles the many people and places that have contributed to the drink’s legend since its origin. This satisfying book explores the history of the Old Fashioned through its ingredients and accessories and details the cocktail’s surprising influence on various American institutions. Schmid also considers the impact of various bourbons on the taste of the drink and reviews the timeless debate about whether to muddle.
This spirited guide is an entertaining and refreshing read, featuring a handpicked selection of recipes along with delicious details about the particularities that arose with each new variation. See below for some of our favorite featured recipes and tips from the author himself!
Here are some tips for making the perfect authentic Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail:
1. Make each drink individually.
2. Use an Old Fashioned glass.
3. Use a teaspoon of castor sugar or a sugar cube (or simple syrup).
4. Use just a little hot water.
5. Use Angostura bitters, and muddle the sugar water and bitters until well blended.
6. Don’t muddle the fruit; use it only as a garnish.
7. Use bourbon (high proof).
8. Cut a large strip of orange peel, and twist it over the glass.
9. Use as few ice cubes as possible.
Blackberry Honey Old Fashioned
This drink comes from Louisville bartender Kiersten Gillam. She replaces the cherries and sugar with blackberries and honey. It is important to note that honey is sweeter than sugar, so less is required to achieve the same level of sweetness.
½ orange slice
¼ teaspoon (a drizzle) of honey
2 dashes Gary Regan’s orange bitters
1½ ounces bourbon whiskey
Soda to fill
In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle the orange slice,
blackberries, honey, and bitters. Then fill the glass
with ice, bourbon, and soda. Shake the ingredients
together, strain the mixture into another glass over
ice, and serve.
Mint New Fashioned
Earlier, I suggested that the Mint Julep may have been adapted from the Old Fashioned. Here is a new twist on that idea.
6 mint leaves
½ tablespoon simple syrup
3 tablespoons rye or bourbon
1 tablespoon orange bitters
Place the mint leaves in a rocks glass and top with
simple syrup. Use a muddler to bruise the mint leaves
to release the oils. Fill the glass with ice and pour in
the rye or bourbon and bitters. Gently stir and serve.