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  • Barrett Rothe

The Old Fashioned: Everything Is New Again

When it comes to classic cocktails, few are as iconic and timeless as the Old Fashioned. This revered concoction, steeped in history, was (allegedly) first crafted in the heart of bourbon country – Louisville, Kentucky. Whether you're a whiskey connoisseur or a casual drinker, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail that appeals to all tastes and levels of mixology expertise. The fascinating history of this drink is the key distinctions from other whiskey-based cocktails like the Manhattan, and provides you with a simple yet perfect Old Fashioned recipe.

The Origins of the Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned cocktail has a heritage that reaches deep into the annals of mixology. Many believe it earned its name from the way it was made "the old-fashioned way" before the advent of modern mixology techniques. While its exact origin remains shrouded in mystery, it's widely accepted that it emerged in the early 19th century. Experts attribute its invention to Louisville, Kentucky, a city renowned for its bourbon production. Wikipedia will tell you the Pendennis Club in Kentucky claims invention of the Old Fashioned.

The Classic Ingredients

A quintessential Old Fashioned consists of a few simple yet crucial components:

  1. Whiskey: The heart and soul of this cocktail, you can use bourbon, rye, or a blended whiskey. The choice of whiskey influences the flavor profile of your Old Fashioned, so feel free to experiment. We recommend the classic bourbon, preferably our Blue Corn Bourbon.

  2. Sugar: Traditionally, a sugar cube is muddled with bitters to sweeten the cocktail. Alternatively, you can use simple syrup for a quicker preparation.

  3. Bitters: A dash of aromatic bitters adds depth and complexity to the drink. While store-bought bitters work perfectly, some enthusiasts enjoy crafting their own custom bitters blends.

  4. Water: A teaspoon of water can be added to help bring out the nuances of the bourbon.

  5. Ice: Classic Old Fashioneds are served over ice, which not only chills the drink but also slightly dilutes it to the strength. We recommend a large, single ice cube.

  6. Garnishes: An orange peel and a maraschino cherry are the finishing touches that make an Old Fashioned visually appealing and aromatic. For added touch, try (safely) roasting an orange slice with a kitchen torch.

Distinguishing the Old Fashioned from the Manhattan

While both the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan are cherished whiskey-based cocktails, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart:

  1. Sweetness: The Old Fashioned is sweetened with sugar or simple syrup, whereas the Manhattan derives its sweetness from vermouth.

  2. Garnish: An Old Fashioned is garnished with an orange peel and a maraschino cherry, while a Manhattan is typically adorned with a brandied cherry.

  3. Glassware: The Old Fashioned is served in a lowball glass, also known as an Old Fashioned glass, while a Manhattan is traditionally presented in a stemmed martini glass.

  4. Base: It is more common to see Manhattan's defaulting to a rye whisky instead of a bourbon.

Making the Perfect Old Fashioned

Now that we've explored the origins and key elements of this classic cocktail, let's dive into the simple process of crafting a perfect Old Fashioned:

  1. Begin by placing a sugar cube (or a spoonful of simple syrup) into an Old Fashioned glass.

  2. Add a few dashes of bitters to the sugar.

  3. Muddle the sugar and bitters together to create a syrupy base.

  4. Add a teaspoon of water to the mixture and stir until well combined.

  5. Fill the glass with ice cubes.

  6. Pour in 2 ounces of your chosen whiskey (bourbon, rye, or blended).

  7. Stir gently to chill and dilute the cocktail.

  8. Garnish with an orange peel and a maraschino cherry.


The Old Fashioned cocktail is a testament to the enduring appeal of simplicity and tradition in mixology. Its roots trace back to the early days of cocktail culture, and its timeless charm continues to captivate enthusiasts around the world. Whether you prefer bourbon or rye, sugar cubes or simple syrup, an Old Fashioned is a versatile and classic drink that can be enjoyed by everyone. So, the next time you're in the mood for a sophisticated yet straightforward libation, raise your glass to the Old Fashioned and savor a taste of history in every sip. Cheers!

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