What is the original Old Fashioned?

Answered by Robert Dupre

The original Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that dates back to the late 19th century. As mentioned in the question, the first printed recipe for the Old Fashioned can be found in George Kappeler’s book, Modern American Drinks, published in 1895.

According to Kappeler’s recipe, the first step is to dissolve a lump of sugar in water. This is typically done by muddling the sugar with a small amount of water in a glass or mixing glass. The purpose of this step is to sweeten the cocktail and ensure that the sugar is evenly distributed throughout.

Next, two dashes of bitters are added to the glass. Angostura bitters are the most commonly used type of bitters in an Old Fashioned, but other varieties can also be used to add different flavor profiles. Bitters are a concentrated flavoring agent made from herbs, spices, and botanicals. They add depth and complexity to the cocktail.

After the bitters, a piece of ice is added to the glass. The ice serves two purposes: it chills the drink and helps to dilute it slightly. The size of the ice cube can vary, but a large, solid cube is often preferred as it melts more slowly, preventing the cocktail from becoming overly diluted too quickly.

A twist of lemon peel is then added to the glass. The lemon peel is typically expressed over the drink to release its essential oils, which add a subtle citrus aroma to the cocktail. The lemon peel can also be rubbed around the rim of the glass for added flavor.

One jigger of whiskey is poured into the glass. A jigger is a standard measurement used in bartending, usually equivalent to 1.5 ounces or 44 milliliters. The type of whiskey used can vary based on personal preference, but traditionally, a rye whiskey was used in the original Old Fashioned recipe.

Once all the ingredients are in the glass, the cocktail is gently stirred to combine everything. Some variations of the Old Fashioned may also include a splash of soda water or club soda, but the original recipe does not include this ingredient.

It’s worth noting that the Old Fashioned has evolved over time, and there are many variations and interpretations of the cocktail. Some people may choose to muddle a cherry and orange slice along with the sugar and bitters, while others may add a sugar cube instead of dissolving the sugar in water. There is no one “correct” way to make an Old Fashioned, and personal preferences can vary greatly.

The original Old Fashioned is a simple yet timeless cocktail that combines sugar, bitters, whiskey, and a twist of lemon peel. It is a classic recipe that has stood the test of time and continues to be enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts around the world.