When it comes to the cocktail hall of fame, there aren’t many as acclaimed as the Old Fashioned. A classic drink famed for its glamorous roots and literary references, it’s one of the must-know cocktails for any bartender or mixology enthusiast. Uncover its history and learn how to make your own old-school Old Fashioned in this guide.
The Old Fashioned is a classic whiskey-based cocktail. Dark and with very little to water down the alcohol, it’s a strong drink that certainly leaves an impression! This hearty cocktail is perfect for evenings in jazz bars or for warming up after a winter walk and was once one of the most popular drinks in America.
As with almost all famous cocktails, the origins of the Old Fashioned aren’t certain. The most likely story records the first appearance in 1806 when Harry Croswell described a cocktail as containing any combination of spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Although this definition hasn’t stood the test of time (a Pina Colada, anyone?), and he didn’t specify whisky as a must, it does encompass the basics of a good Old Fashioned.
In 1895, George Kappeler detailed the recipe in Modern American Drinks and by the 1900s, the Old Fashioned was one of the most popular cocktails in the world.
To create the perfect old-school old-fashioned, you’ll need:
- Bourbon or rye whisky
- One sugar cube
- Dash of water
- Angostura bitters
- Ice cubes
Place the sugar cube, water, and two dashes of bitters into a glass. Stir or muddle until the sugar is completely dissolved. If you prefer, you can use sugar syrup and skip this step. Add ice and whiskey, stirring with a bar spoon. Garnish with a twist of orange or cherry and serve immediately.
In terms of glasses, we recommend a traditional Old Fashioned Tumbler, also known as a rocks or whisky glass. Our personal favourite is the Ginza Tall Cuts Old Fashioned Tumbler, made of premium crystal glass and with a weight to it that feels just right in the hand.
For a traditional Old Fashioned, it has to be American whisky. Bourbon or rye are preferred, though you can play around with country origins for a slightly different take on this classic cocktail. If you’re going classic, though, we highly recommend Whistle Pigs 10 Year Old Rye Whisky, aged in American oak barrels and with subtle notes of warm spice and sweet caramel.
If you’re a lover of a high-quality, stiff drink, you’ll get along with us at UrbanBar just fine! We have a wide selection of premium barware designed to get the best from your spirits, as well as glassware collections, oak ageing barrels, and vintage drinks trolleys. To learn more about our products, feel free to get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to help you.