Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe - The Whisky Exchange
The Old Fashioned – strong and simple
Made for slow sipping, this vintage cocktail serves to enhance a whiskey’s flavour by adding sweetness, bitters and dilution.
Adhering to the original definition of a cocktail (spirit, bitters, sugar and water) the Old Fashioned dates back to 1800. What is incredible about the Old Fashioned is how little has changed over the intervening 200 years.
In its infancy the drink went by the name Whiskey Cocktail and was actually enjoyed in the morning, as cocktails were, to restore and act as an ‘eye opener’. By 1840 it had gained cult status and was the mark of the young, sophisticated man-about-town.
Thirty years later the bartending scene had moved on, and with the addition of new liqueurs, bartenders started to become a little too experimental, adding in dashes of this and that to the Whiskey Cocktail. If this sounded unappealing (which is was) you called out for an Old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.
Into the 19th century the drink adopted a few changes, most prominently becoming served over ice. It was also no longer a quick, down-in-one morning pick-me-up, but rather a slow sipping cocktail.
Prohibition’s 13 year interlude only did harm for the Old Fashioned, with chunks of fruit being mashed into the drink, maraschino cherries to garnish and then topping off the fruity mess with soda. Thankfully a revival of the cocktail saved the traditional recipe and has ensured this charming, whiskey-rich drink has made it safely into the 21st century.
Finally, the great debate: rye or bourbon? In fact an old fashioned can be made with almost any spirit, not just whiskey. Experiment with mezcal, Cognac and aged rums, it all works. However, a middle-of-the-road bourbon or rye works splendidly if you’re keeping it traditional. As cocktail historian David Wondrich wrote “Cheap bourbon's already sweet enough, and good bourbon doesn't need any help going down.”
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