The Old Fashioned: The Recipe and The History Behind the Iconic Cocktail

The Old Fashioned has been a popular choice amongst sophisticated masses and bar-hopping socialites for almost 120 years. In fact, the decadent concoction predates not only the motorcar but the presidency of Abe Lincoln. In 1895, George Kappeler published a book entitled ‘Modern American Drinks.’ The book included a spectacular array of the time’s most popular and booze-laden beverages.

Amongst them was the recipe for the Whiskey Old Fashioned Cocktail. The original recipe is as follows, “Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass; add two dashes Angostura bitters, a small piece of ice, a piece of lemon-peel, one jigger whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving the spoon in glass.”

The cocktail is said to have come about in the hedonistic years following the prohibition. Ordered over marble-topped bars in underground gentleman clubs, the bitter, sweet mix gained fast popularity amongst discerning drinkers. The cocktail has endured long past the golden age of speakeasies. Though there is a wealth of variations available, purists will delight in this original recipe for one of history’s most beloved cocktails.

The Old Fashioned: The Recipe and The History Behind the Iconic Cocktail

1 teaspoon superfine sugar or 1 sugar cube
2 to 3 dashes bitters (Angostura or Fee Brother Black Walnut Bitters are traditional options)
2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
Orange and/or cherry, to garnish

1. Place sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Douse with bitters and add a few drops of water.
2. Add whiskey and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Add several large ice cubes and stir rapidly with a bar spoon to chill.
4. Garnish, if you like, with a slice of orange and/or a cherry. If using orange, slide the slice around the rim of the glass before serving.