The Old Fashioned: the cocktail as iconic as James Bond’s, “shaken, not stirred,” Martini. But remembering back only ten years, the Old Fashioned was all but forgotten, a dinosaur in the cocktail world - that is, until the booze soaked Mad Men glamorized the drink, along with the “mixologist” trend that blew up all over the United States and the rest of the world. But where didit all begin?
The recipe of mixing whiskey, bitters, water, and sugar has been around since the early 1800s, but the name wasn’t coined until later in the century, around the 1880s. But, “Old Fashioned” originated as a style, as patrons would ask for a cocktail, “The Old Fashioned way,” and the alcohol could have varied from whiskey to gin, even. It is widely credited to bartender James E. Pepper in 1881 at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, KY, for making the Bourbon Old Fashioned much how we know it today. He then brought the recipe to New York’s Waldorf-Astoria.
As time went on, recipes varied, some often including curaçao and/or other liqueurs, rye
whiskey opposed to Bourbon, simple syrup compared to sugar lumps, a variety of garnishes, etc. It’s easy to get lost in the confusion, but it’s always best to start with a good recipe, or two.
My favorite go-to cocktail book is a 1936 copy of Burke’s Complete Cocktail and Tastybite
Recipes, but the amounts can sometimes be vague. However, a trusted bartender can be the ideal solution to the problem. Barman Bobby Ever of Williamsburg’s Hotel Delmano has the simple and perfect recipe. Cheers!
The Bobby Ever Old Fashioned:
2oz Rye Whiskey
Scant 1/2oz simple syrup (recipe below)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir in a cocktail mixing glass and pour into a whiskey glass over ice. Garnish with an orange
and lemon twist.
Add both the water and sugar to a small, non-reactive pot. Heat on high until the mixture comes to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the syrup into a container, cover, and cool to room temperature.