~ Iconically classic - we're exploring (and sipping) an Old Fashioned today ~
What is it? - An old fashioned is a whiskey cocktail that, in its most traditional form (and to be classified as such), includes sugar muddled with bitters, whiskey (usually rye or bourbon), and a bit of water (or ice). A citrus twist is a common addition. The other popular interpretation includes an orange wheel, a cherry (or two) and club soda for a lighter, fruitier taste, as explained by Liquor.com.
As Robert Simonson, author of The Old Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, explains, the old fashioned was "once an austere, perfectly balanced assemblage of whiskey, bitters, sugar and water—a cocktail in its most elemental." It took on several decades of baggage as it made its way through prohibition era bars with a "fruit cocktail" reputation, commonly made with weak whiskey. In it's original and 'austere' glory, it was and is a thing of iconic distinction - Simonson goes on to point out that "James Beard, the American culinary godfather, named a dry Martini, a dry Daiquiri, and 'an old-fashioned without any refuse in the way of fruit' the best of cocktails."
Epicurious attributes the invention of the drink as "frequently (and probably inaccurately) credited to a bartender at the Pendennis Club, in Louisville, Kentucky, who around the turn of the 20th century reportedly made the drink for Colonel James E. Pepper, a member of the club and by some accounts a prominent bourbon distiller." It is worthy to note, however, that definitions of "old fashioned" as it relates to a basic style of any cocktail creation date back in record as far as 1806, when an editor of an upstate New York newspaper answered a query regarding the phrase "cock tail" with the definition: "Cock tail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters." This became accepted as the 'old fashioned' way to make a cocktail, and today's interpretations have stemmed from this widely accepted definition.
Further discussion (and a few great bar recommendations for ordering an Old Fashioned) is worth reading in this Eater article by Naren Young, and a helpful breakdown of opposing views regarding specific ingredients is provided by Felicity Cloake for The Guardian. Making your own Old Fashioned at home? Let Oldfashioned101.com be your guide, and enjoy!
*Thanks to Pour Brothers Community Tavern for the delightful liquid photo props.
Cheers ~ Sadie
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