What’s Old Is New Again. The Old-Fashioned Has A Two-Century Pedigree

on 22/06/14 at 11:46 am

Booze News

imagesCocktails come in many forms today, but at their root, there’s a very simple formula: spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. In that sense, the Old-Fashioned is “in form the primordial cocktail,” writes Robert Simonson (pictured) in “The Old-Fashioned.” And while the Martini and the Manhattan, he writes, “have long been recognized as owning space atop the Mount Olympus of classic cocktails,” it’s the Old-Fashioned, with its two-century pedigree, that deserves pride of place.

The drink has indeed returned to prominence, but decades of mishandling the recipe — through poor spirit choices, overly sweet modifiers, or the dreaded (and controversial) muddled orange and cherry — nearly knocked it out of favor.

Interestingly, the Old-Fashioned, which we think of today as a, well, old-fashioned cocktail, has been viewed as such for over a century. Originally known as a Whiskey Cocktail (first mentioned in a book in 1862 by bar titan Jerry Thomas), it was made with whiskey, bitters, gum syrup, and a twist of lemon. That inspired all manner of experimentation, as cocktails did then and now, but to the point where purists thought it was losing its essential character. Around the late 1800s people who ordered the drink began asking for a Whiskey Cocktail made the old-fashioned way. Today in some bars you’ll find drinkers calling for an “old-fashioned Old-Fashioned,” by which they typically mean without the fruit.READ MORE