The Old Fashioned by Stamatis Giannikos

The Old Fashioned is a type of cocktail made by muddling dissolved sugar with bitters then adding alcohol, such as whiskey or brandy, and a twist of citrus rind. It is traditionally served in a short, round, 8–12 US fl oz (240–350 ml) tumbler-like glass, which is called an Old Fashioned Glass, named after the drink.



The first documented definition of the word "cocktail" was in response to a reader's letter asking to define the word in the May 6, 1806, issue of The Balance and Columbia Repository in Hudson, New York. In the May 13, 1806, issue, the paper's editor wrote that it was a potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar; it was also referred to at the time as a bittered sling.

The first alleged use of the specific name "Old Fashioned" was for a Bourbon Whiskey cocktail in the 1880s, at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe is said to have been invented by a bartender at that club, and popularized by a club member and bourbon distiller, Colonel James E, Peppel, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.



One of the earliest recipes for an Old Fashioned, written in 1895, specifies the following: "Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass; add two dashes Angostura bitters, a small piece of ice, a piece of lemon-peel, one jigger (1,5 fl oz or 44 ml) whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass."

A book by David Embury published in 1948 provides a slight variation:

•  12 parts American whiskey

•  1 part simple syrup

•  1-3 dashes Angostura bitters

•  Twist of lemon peel over the top, and serve garnished with the lemon peel and a maraschino cherry.

Two additional recipes from the 1900s vary in the precise ingredients, but omit the cherry which was introduced after 1930as well as the soda water which the occasional recipe calls for. Orange bitters were a popular ingredient in the late 19th century, and for the second recipe, the Curaçao appears to have been added to increase the orange flavor.



The original Old Fashioned recipe would have showcased the whiskey available in America in the 19th century, either bourbon or Rye Whiskey. But in some regions, especially Wisconsin, brandy is substituted for whiskey (sometimes called a Brandy Old Fashioned). Eventually the use of other spirits became common, such as a gin recipe becoming popularized in the late 1940s. Another common modification is to add soda water. Common garnishes for an Old Fashioned include an orange slice or a maraschino cherry, although these modifications came around 1930, sometime after the original recipe was invented. While some recipes began making sparse use of the orange zest for flavor, the practice of muddling orange and other fruit gained prevalence as late as the 1990s.

Bartenders often use a dissolved sugar-water premix called simple syrup, which is faster to use than granulated sugar and eliminates the risk of leaving undissolved sugar in the drink, which can spoil a drinker's final sip.


In popular culture

The Old Fashioned is a cocktail of choice of Don Draper, the lead character on the Mad Men television series.

In the movie Crazy Stupid Love, Ryan Gosling’s character Jacob Palmer is shown making this drink to Emma Stone's character Hannah Weaver.


Written by Stamatis Giannikos