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old fashioned

How to Make an Old Fashioned at Home

The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest cocktails in the books. It’s actually the best-selling cocktail annually, which proves its timeless appeal. The apparently simple concoction has unique traits, as it must be prepared with a strict, uncommon method. However, making an Old Fashioned at home is easy, and you don’t need anything extraordinary.

Here’s what you need to know about the Old Fashioned and how to make one at home. This truly is an old-fashioned drink that you’re sure to love.

What Is an Old Fashioned?

When Jerry Thomas—the father of modern bartending—published his How to Mix Drinks manual in 1862, not all of the drinks were cocktails. In fact, just a few drinks were labeled as such. Other categories included daisies, crustas, punches, and others. Before that time, mixed drinks weren’t all that exciting. Ice wasn’t always available, and most mixed drinks were just attempts to make awful spirits taste better.

That all changed when modern ice production, flavored liqueurs, and fresh products—like lemon juice—became more widely available. Suddenly, cocktails actually tasted good, and they came in all colors, flavors, and sizes. For those accustomed to the old ways, the new wave of mixed drinks wasn’t all that appealing, and many of them preferred to order an old-fashioned drink—the style they knew and loved.

So, what exactly is an old-fashioned drink? In the mid-1900s, an Old Fashioned cocktail consisted of a spirit, slightly sweetened and enhanced with a dash of bitters. Does this recipe sound familiar? Today’s Old Fashioned cocktail is exactly that. While not the most exciting cocktail, it’s just as delicious today as it was back then.

What’s in an Old Fashioned?

Recipes for the Old Fashioned cocktail were readily available in the late 1900s. Some bars—like the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky—claim its invention, but so do many others.

Although you can technically make an Old Fashioned with any spirit, including brandy and gin, what most people think of when ordering this cocktail is the Whiskey Old Fashioned. Not everyone agrees on this point, but you can use either Bourbon or Rye Whiskey for the cocktail. Besides whiskey, the recipe calls for a sugar cube, a dash of Angostura bitters, and a splash of water.

How to Make a Homemade Old Fashioned Cocktail

To make an Old Fashioned cocktail, you’ll need an ounce and a half of bourbon or rye whiskey, a sugar cube, a few dashes of Angostura, and a splash of water. You’ll also need glassware, a muddler, and a bar spoon. An Old Fashioned Mini Bar kit might be perfect for you if you plan on making more than a few of these.

5-Step Recipe: 

  1. Place the sugar cube in a short glass, also known as an Old Fashioned glass.
  2. Saturate the sugar with bitters.
  3. Add a splash of water, and muddle the combination until dissolved.
  4. Fill the glass with fresh ice, and pour in the whiskey.
  5. Stir gently, and garnish with an orange slice, orange peel, or a cocktail cherry.

How to Serve an Old Fashioned

  • Serve Old Fashioned cocktails in short glasses or tumblers. They’re called Old Fashioned glasses for a reason, and it’s because they have the suitable capacity for a short drink.
  • Be sure to use fresh ice. A large cube is always better than several small ones, as it melts slower. Avoid using crushed ice for this reason.
  • Garnish with an orange peel to keep things simple. You can always squeeze it on top of the cocktail to release its aromatic oils. If using cherries, avoid adding too much syrup to the cocktail. You don’t want it to be overly sweet.
  • For cocktails on the rocks, be sure to prepare, serve, and consume them immediately, as they’re never better than when freshly served.

Whenever you don’t feel like having a colorful tropical drink, opt for an Old Fashioned. After all, sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

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