Interesting Facts About Old Fashioned

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The old fashioned is a classic cocktail that dates back to the 19th century. It’s a simple and timeless drink, made with just a few ingredients: bourbon or rye whiskey, sugar (often in the form of a sugar cube), bitters, and a twist of citrus peel. Despite its straightforward recipe, there are many interesting facts about this iconic beverage.

Origins and History

  1. The first recorded mention of an old fashioned can be traced back to 1806 in a book called “The Art of Drinking.” This early version was made with brandy instead of whiskey, which may have been due to the popularity of brandy at the time.
  2. The drink gained widespread popularity during the Prohibition era when it was served as a legal loophole – you could still buy alcohol for medicinal purposes. Bartenders would often serve a variation on an old fashioned to unsuspecting customers seeking relief from various ailments.
  3. In the mid-20th century, the old fashioned fell out of favor due to changing tastes and preferences. However, thanks in part to the modern cocktail revival, this classic drink has made a strong comeback and is now enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts around the world.

Ingredients and Preparation

  1. The choice of whiskey is crucial for an old fashioned. While bourbon is the most common option, rye whisky can also be used. Some bartenders even opt for Canadian or Irish whiskeys. The key is to choose a high-quality spirit that will stand up well in this simple cocktail.
  2. To sweeten the drink, a sugar cube is typically muddled with bitters and water before adding the whiskey. This creates a flavorful syrup that adds depth and balance to the cocktail.
  3. Bitters are an essential ingredient in any old fashioned. Angostura bitters are the most common choice, but you can also experiment with other types like Peychaud’s or Boker’s bitters for a different twist on the classic recipe.
  4. The citrus twist is often overlooked, but it plays an important role in adding freshness and brightness to the drink. A lemon peel is the most traditional choice, but orange or even grapefruit can be used instead.


  1. One popular variation of the old fashioned is the Sazerac, which replaces the whiskey with cognac or rye and adds absinthe to the mix. This drink has its own unique history and is considered a classic New Orleans cocktail.
  2. The Whiskey Smash substitutes the sugar cube for simple syrup and adds mint leaves to the mix, making it a refreshing summertime option.
  3. For those who prefer something a bit sweeter, the Bourbon Fizz combines bourbon with lemon juice, grenadine, and egg white for a frothy finish.

Cocktail Culture and Traditions

  1. The old fashioned is often associated with classic cocktail culture and gentlemanly traditions. Some bars even have specific rituals surrounding the preparation of this drink, such as lighting a candle or placing a cherry on top.
  2. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the art of bartending and mixology. This has led to more creative interpretations of the old fashioned, with bartenders experimenting with new ingredients and techniques.
  3. Despite its simplicity, the old fashioned remains an iconic drink that symbolizes a bygone era of sophistication and glamour. It continues to be enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts across generations who appreciate its timeless appeal.

In conclusion, the old fashioned is much more than just a simple cocktail made with whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a twist of citrus. With its fascinating history, rich flavors, and enduring popularity, this classic drink holds a special place in the hearts of cocktail lovers everywhere.

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