Evolution of Old Fashioned cocktail

the old fashioned style and cocktail recipes

The Old Fashioned is more than just a drink. It’s a piece of history and perfect definition of the word cocktail – spirit, sugar, bitters, water.

The name old fashioned originally evolved from Whisky cocktail as its featured in 1862 Jerry Thomas: How to mix drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion

3 or 4 Dashes of Gum Syrup
2 Dashes of Bitters(Boker’s)
1 Wineglass of Whiskey(Rye)
Piece of lemon peel
Fill one-third full of fine ice, shake and strain into a fancy red wine glass

Transformation of the Whisky cocktail into the Old Fashioned:

Whisky cocktail was usually served with Rye or Bourbon and optionally with Maraschino, Absinthe or Curacao which was called Improved Whisky Cocktail(1887).

There was usually the entire section of Old fashioned style cocktails such as Brandy cocktail, Gin cocktail(made with Holland or Old Tom gin) and other.

From the late 19th century until the prohibition cocktail was usually made in one glass with a lump of sugar and accompanied by a silver spoon(served in the glass). Spoon was used to scooping out fruit or sugar(deliciously flavoured) from the bottom of the glass.

First known the appearance of Old Fashioned 1888 The Bartender’s manualTake a teaspoon of sugar and dissolve it in a bar spoon of water in an Old Fashioned glass. Add Angostura Bitters and a bar spoon of simple syrup, a twist of lemon peel, two ounces of whisky and one large chunk of ice. Stir until chilled.

The Savoy Old Fashioned – Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail book 1930
1 Lump sugar
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 Glass of Rye or Canadian Club Whisky
Crush sugar and bitters together, add lump of ice, twist of lemon peel, slice of orange using medium size glass and stir well

How to improve The Old Fashioned

The Old-fashioned as we know today is usually made with Bourbon, Sugar Cube, Angostura Bitters, Water and Ice.
Although it’s something magical about muddling sugar cube in the glass and then stirring down all the ingredients. But what if we take The Old-fashioned as a style and not the recipe? It would open up new possibilities and space for an improvement of the actual cocktail.

Let’s take firstly all the ingredients separately:

  • Bourbon can be substituted for other spirits such as Rye, Brandy, Gin, Rum or Tequila.
  • Sugar cube and Water can be substituted for Simple syrup, Gum syrup, Demerara syrup, Molasses syrup, Agave syrup, Honey syrup or Maple syrup or basically any homemade flavoured syrup.
  • When making the old-fashioned we need absolute control over the dilution. So instead of muddling sugar with water, which causes uncontrolled dilution and usually leaves a bit of sugar at the bottom of the glass (sugar doesn’t dissolve well in alcohol), we will instead use syrup in different forms as mentioned above.
  • There are many commercial brands and flavours of Bitters that can complement the cocktail or the other option is that you can make one of them yourself.
  • Classic cubed ice can be substituted for a block of ice or ice mould. Using right technique
    Stir all ingredients in the pre-chilled mixing glass and then strain into the old-fashioned glass filled with a block of ice or ice mould. This way it will provide control dilution and great visual appeal.

Enhancing and complimenting the flavours of a base spirit

Complementing and enhancing the flavour can be done with a right sweetener and bitters. So obviously for the different types spirits, we will be using different bitters and sweeteners. So, the importance of knowing the spirit used and the preferences of the person who will enjoy the drink goes a long way.

The Old Fashioned Cocktail

50ml Woodford Reserve
Spoon of Demerara Syrup
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
2 Dashes of Orange Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice in the pre-chilled mixing glass and strain into the old-fashioned glass filled with ice mould and garnish with an orange twist.

For a bit more of a citrusy aroma, you can twist and drop an orange peel into your mixing glass before you start mixing your ingredients.

Other variations of The Old Fashioned

Genever Old Fashioned

Guyanese Old Fashioned

Oaxaca Old Fashioned

Benton’s Old Fashioned

French Agricole Old Fashioned

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