The Art Of The Cocktail Part Two: The Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned occupies that curious ground between being a grown man’s drink, it’s got a serious jolt of bourbon in it, and being sweet and fruity enough to appeal to beginning drinkers or folks who typically like cocktails with miniature patio furniture jutting out of the top of the glass.

It’s a gateway beverage.

The first time I ordered one, I was at a bar in Richmond, Kentucky with a freshly minted fake id and the knowledge that there existed a drink called the Old Fashioned. That and a pocket filled with cash was about all I had at that point.

I immediately took to it probably due to the fact that I have a genetic love of bourbon and anything that has an orange flavor will always have my complete, undivided attention.

But a bit of research shows this modern rendition of the Old Fashioned to be a pale shadow of the original. Back in the 1800s, the drink had little more than whiskey, bitters, sugar and lemon peel. At some point, a hundred or so years later, the classic mutated and became a sugary, fruity shape shifter of a cocktail.

For the purposes of this series, this recipe, will be as old fashioned i.e as much like one you’d get in the 1800s, as possible.

Old Fashioned Recipe


2 oz Whiskey, rye or bourbon

1 each Sugar Cube


Angostura bitters

Lemon Peel


* Place sugar cube in the bottom of rocks glass

* Add a few drops of water and stir til cube is dissolved

* Add a few drops of bitters, to suit, I like several and I also like the brand Peychaud’s

* Add 2 oz whiskey, I like Bulleit

* Garnish with ice and/or lemon peel


Some folks like this cocktail served cold, as do I, others prefer it at room temperature

The lemon peel is optional, some people insist that an orange peel be included. It’s up to you.

There are many variations on this drink, this is just the way I like it. It hews fairly close to the old rendition but feel free to experiment and build the drink to suit your own palate.


About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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