Few things conjure up a feeling of sophistication more than ordering an Old Fashioned cocktail. There’s an attention to detail, from the muddled sugar to the essential oils of the orange peel being released into the glass, which most other cocktails lack.
While a true Old Fashioned is a decadent classic, it can be fun to try some modifications to the original. Keep reading for 5 Spins on an Old Fashioned Recipe.
The History of the Old Fashioned
An old fashioned as we know it today consists of muddled sugar, bitters, and sometimes soda water, topped with whiskey, citrus peel, and maybe a cocktail cherry. There have been many iterations of the drink over the years, using different whiskey and even brandy.
The original mixed drink dates back to the 19th century and was one of the first cocktails. In fact, when asked for the first time to define the word “cocktail” in 1806, a New York Newspaper gave the recipe for what we know today as an Old Fashioned.
Through the late 19th century, cocktails became increasingly complex, and nostalgic bar-goers started to ask their bartenders for the simpler whiskey cocktail of days gone by. It became popular to order an “old fashioned” cocktail, using the same recipe that had been described in that New York newspaper in 1806.
Related: How is Bourbon Made?
It’s not surprising that the center of the American whiskey industry, Louisville Kentucky, would claim the cocktail was invented there. Legend says that the drink was invented at the Pendennis Club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, Master Distiller and whiskey advocate. Pepper frequented New York, particularly the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and was said to have been responsible for making the drink more widely popular throughout the United States.
Whether the story of Colonel Pepper popularizing the drink is true, we know that the drink gained notoriety in the late 1880s, and eventually became Louisville’s official cocktail – ahead of the Mint Julep!
As Old Fashioned cocktails became more popular, rye became the frequent spirit to add, though according to Louisville bourbon is now the traditional whiskey to use with an Old Fashioned.