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The Old Fashioned: A Classic Cocktail Steeped in History

The Old Fashioned is a timeless cocktail, enjoyed for its simplicity and complex flavor profile. But did you know this seemingly straightforward drink boasts a rich history dating back centuries? Let’s delve into the origins of the Old Fashioned and explore how to craft this delectable beverage yourself.

A Cocktail Evolves: From Whiskey Cocktail to Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned’s story begins in the early 1800s with the “Whiskey Cocktail,” a simple concoction of whiskey, sugar, bitters, and water. This early version was served warm, without ice. As cocktail culture flourished in the mid-19th century, bartenders began experimenting with more elaborate ingredients and techniques. Some patrons, however, pined for the “old fashioned” way, thus giving rise to the name “Old Fashioned” in the 1880s to distinguish it from these newfangled inventions.

Prohibition’s Influence and the Modern Old Fashioned

Prohibition (1920-1933) significantly impacted the Old Fashioned. The quality of available spirits declined, prompting bartenders to add fruit muddles like orange and maraschino cherry, possibly to mask the harsh flavors. While these additions became a common feature, the core elements of whiskey, sugar, and bitters remained.

Following Prohibition, the Old Fashioned enjoyed a resurgence, though the fruit muddles remained in vogue for a time. Today, bartenders often take a more purist approach, focusing on high-quality ingredients and a balanced flavor profile.

Crafting Your Own Old Fashioned: A Recipe for Timeless Enjoyment

Here’s what you’ll need to make a classic Old Fashioned:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 60 ml bourbon
  • Large ice cube (block)
  • Orange peel and maraschino cherry (for garnish)


  1. Place clean napkin over mixing glass and place sugar cube on it. Pour bitter on it and let is soak into the sugar and drop sugar cube into the mixing glass. Discharge the dirty napkin.
  2. Pour dash of water or soda onto the sugar and muddle it until dissolved.
  3. Add the whiskey and ice cubes
  4. Stir gently for about 15 seconds to chill and dilute the drink.
  5. Stir it into old fashioned glass over ice block
  6. Express the oils from the orange peel by twisting it over the glass and then dropping it in.

Raise a Glass to History

The Old Fashioned is more than just a cocktail; it’s a testament to the evolution of taste and a reminder that sometimes, the classics are the best. So, the next time you crave a sophisticated yet approachable drink, whip up an Old Fashioned and appreciate its rich history with every sip.