Tag Archives: Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned

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.

Image via Google

Image via Google

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
2 blackberries
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.


Is the Old Fashioned the Leading Man’s New Cocktail?


Can you spot the Old Fashioned?

This week, we’ve already talked about the Old Fashioned’s part as practically a supporting character in Mad Men, but did you know that the classic cocktail is a favorite of another smooth-talking character?

As Albert Schmid details in his preface for The Old Fashioned, the drink makes a pretty big splash in the 2011 Warner Brothers picture, Crazy, Stupid, Love. Ryan Gosling’s character, Jacob, resident Don Juan and romance coach to Steve Carell’s Cal, casually sips the whiskey cocktail (which contains Pappy Van Winkle bourbon to be precise) all throughout the movie’s two hours and ten minutes.

Schmid states, “Of all the cocktails for Jacob to use in the art of seduction, the Old Fashioned is the most poetic drink he could choose. The bittersweet whiskey-flavored beverage is simple to make but requires practice to perfect. The process of muddling the fruit (as some recipes call for) can be very seductive, if done by the right person.”

There have definitely been a bevy of articles proclaiming the return of the Old Fashioned over the past few years, and choice for signature cocktail of these characters indicates that those in Hollywood definitely have a finger on the pulse of new trends. So what is it about the Old Fashioned that says “leading man?” Is the Old Fashioned just what Hollywood is making men drink or maybe, is there supposed to be a little something more to the men who drink Old Fashioned’s?

Don’t forget to register by tomorrow at 1PM for this week’s giveaway, The Old Fashioned by Albert W. A. Schmid!

Which Came First: The Bourbon or the Rye?


Just why is it that we Kentuckians insist on Old Fashioned’s made only with the best bourbon whiskey and eschew the rye? Well it turns out the first pour of bourbon in an Old Fashioned was just convenience and a little bit of state pride, of course!

According to Albert Schmid’s The Old Fashioned, “Although the original cocktail was made with rye whiskey. . . . The Kentucky bartender would have had greater access to bourbon and most likely substituted that for rye.” So really, it was a matter of practicality. Why would someone from Louisville, Kentucky, use an imported whiskey to make a cocktail where there was just so much bourbon around to be had?

So which do you prefer to see poured into your Old Fashioned glass? Does it matter which came first: the bourbon or the rye?

Don’t forget to register for our giveaway this week by Friday at 1PM! One lucky entrant will receive a copy of Albert W. A. Schmid’s The Old Fashioned: An Essential Guide to the Original Whiskey Cocktail.

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.