Picture this, you are at a busy bar, the lighting is dim, there are hundreds of bottles of liquor behind the bar and the bartender finally looks your way and asks “What will it be?” 

If you are like me, it’s easy to freeze up in these situations but when I do, at least I know I have a tried and true solution at my disposal. We all should have our go to drink and for me it always has and always will be the classic, delicious, easy to make, Old Fashioned.

Some may call me unoriginal, but I think it’s really hard to beat this timeless cocktail. It’s the perfect mixture of bitterness, sweetness, and spiciness. There is a reason it’s Americas #1 cocktail.

History of the old fashioned

It’s been around for over 100 years and the simplicity of the drink makes this a favorite for both bartenders and at home cocktail makers. 

If you have done enough research on the history of whiskey/bourbon you know there are a ton of competing stories. The Old Fashioned is no different. 

Most agree that the Old Fashioned originated in the 19th century and was originally known as the “Whiskey Cocktail”. In fact some argue that the term “Old Fashioned” was originally meant to apply to any cocktail. Nonetheless rumors state that the drink originated in Louisville, Kentucky in the early 1880’s at the Pendennis Club. The Pendennis Club was a small social club where James E. Pepper worked. Mr. Pepper was both a bartender and distiller and is often credited with the creation of the Old Fashioned. Those in Louisville state that Mr. Pepper perfected the drink at the Pendennis Club before taking it to New York City. 

Whether the Old Fashioned was created in the Pendennis Club or credit is due to New York City, lets just be thankful someone came up with this amazing cocktail.

Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 TBS of Granulated Sugar or 1 Sugar Cube
  • 3 Dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 TB Water
  • 2 oz of Bourbon or Whiskey 
  • Garnish: Orange Twist 

As any good Dad would say “Don’t do something if you’re not going to do it right”. In order for an Old Fashioned recipe to be right you need to have good whiskey or bourbon. A general rule of thumb that I live by is, if you wouldn’t sip it by itself it’s not good enough for the Old Fashioned. 

If you would like, you can replace the 1 TB of sugar with 1 oz of store bought simple syrup from a bottle. This would put a bit of a modern twist on the drink. If you want to drink it the way Mr.Pepper intended it, then stick with the granulated sugar or sugar cube. As for me and my Distillery Dude brethren, we prefer it with the sugar cube. 

Steps

  1. In a mixing glass add the sugar, bitters, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. If you use a sugar cube, best to use a muddler to crush up the cube.
  2. Add the bourbon and then fill the cub with ice. Stir (do not shake!) until the Old Fashioned is chilled.
  3. Strain the Old Fashioned into a whiskey glass that has one single large ice cube
  4. To cut your garnish use a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife to cut a length of rind (approximately 1 inch by 4 inches) from the orange. A little pith is ok but trim off excess.
  5. Take your orange peel and squeeze the oil over the glass. Pro tip: rub the orange peel along the rim of the glass for a little extra garnish power.
  6. Drop orange garnish into the glass.
  7. Sip and enjoy!
  8. Repeat from Step 1

There you have it! A classic Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe. Timeless, delicious, and easy to make. What more could you want in a cocktail?