The cocktail is an art form that peaked in the middle of the 20th century and has been in rapid decline since. As a young lad, I was schooled in the fine art of cocktailing by my father and grandfathers, I learned many valuable lessons that I plan to pass on. I also want to resurrect some of the old classics that vastly surpass the sugary & fruity concoctions made today with their simplicity, elegance and bold flavors. Most of the time I will focus on one drink, and to provide, at least in my opinion, the definitive recipe, but hope to expand to other related topics as I see fit. Please mix yourself a cocktail, read, drink, and enjoy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Old Fashioned (No Garbage)

The most glaring omission in my ongoing attempt to educate is perhaps my absolute favorite cocktail, so it has pained me greatly to let it sit idly by and not be recognized as the amazing drink that it is. The reason for my reluctance to add the Old Fashioned to the canonical record stems from my inability to decide whether the fruit belonged in the drink or not. I finally had an epiphany on this matter and am ready to pass on my wisdom (and hedge my bets). I realized that both variants have their place and that there is room in every bar for two Old Fashioned recipes, one made simply without fruit and another with fruit. I am going to start with the first, but will be adding the second in the very near future.

The Old Fashioned is perhaps the most bastardized cocktail I have ever come across. Depending on where you get your recipe you will see soda, sprite, ginger ale and many other preposterous ingredients that I refuse to even reference for fear of aiding in the destruction of one of America’s greatest inventions.

The Old Fashioned originated in the 1880s, at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky. More importantly it is considered the first cocktail as defined by the The Balance And Columbia Repository in 1806, as spirits, bitters, water, and sugar.  Following this definition to the word, the Old Fashioned is made up of bourbon, angostura bitters, water and sugar. In lieu of water and sugar separately, I use simple syrup because it makes the drink easier to make and prevents any un-dissolved sugar from sinking to the bottom of the glass.

While many of the drinks highlighted here have many steps and tools involved this one is as simple as it gets. Start with an old fashioned glass filled with ice, add 3 oz. of your favorite bourbon (I like Woodford Reserve for this drink), 2 dashes angostura bitters, and 1 oz. of simple syrup. Stir and serve, that’s it!

This is one of those cocktails that most people have heard of, but few have tried. It can hold its own in any situation as is. If you feel the need for a simple garnish, use an orange twist. You can also use orange bitters to add a slight citrus flavor.

Old Fashioned
3 oz bourbon
2 dashes angostura bitters
1 oz simple syrup
Fill an old fashioned glass with ice.  Add the bourbon, bitters and simple syrup. Stir and serve a piece of cocktail history.

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