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Advanced Mixology – Why Old Fashioned Cocktail Is So Popular And Classy?

Today, we ll find out a little more about one of my favorite bourbon whiskey cocktails – Old Fashioned. Why this cocktail is so popular? Is there anything special and secret about this drink? How many types of Old Fashioned do we know? Is it hard to make this cocktail? Why there is so many variations of that drink and which one is the best?  Should we use orange and cherry and muddle everything together or should we do it simple and clean? Bourbon, Whiskey or Rye? Water or soda? Brown sugar or regular sugar? Maraschino or Marasca cherries?

Before we answer all those questions we need to look back in the old days and find out more about the origins of The Old Fashioned.

A Little History – Who Is The Creator Of Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe?

There is many bartending recipe books and stories of who is the creator of The Old Fashioned. According to Wiki – seems like the first signs of this cocktail are seen at the beginning of 19th century. There were a whiskey drink that has started to get more popularity over the years, made with water, whiskey, sugar and bitters.

Jerry Thomas (The Father of Mixology) is probably the first person adding this drink to his book – Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide 1862 Reprint: How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion. He describes it like a Whiskey cocktail and a way to sweeten and spice your whiskey by adding sugar and bitters combined with ice and strain over a fancy wine glass garnished with a lemon twist. Wow this is kind of old…

However the first time when this drink was made the way it is and called Old Fashioned should be in 1881 at Pendennis Club in  Louisville, Kentucky.  It was made by a bartender who worked at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper – a bourbon distiller who later brought it to  Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.

Ok … enough history. Lets finally make some drinks.

Is there a Right Way To Make An Old Fashioned? How Many Types Of Old Fashioned We Know?

So, there is 2 main group of bartenders an 2 group of consumers who basically like Old Fashioned 2 different ways:

First is the traditional type – people who like it simple (whiskey, sugar, water, bitters). Lets called it Traditional Old Fashioned Cocktail

Second is the innovative type – people who like it with a little more flavor and spice to it ( Whiskey, orange slice, maraschino cherry, brown sugar, bitters and  soda water). We are gonna call it New Old Fashioned Cocktail.

As you can see both of those two types is called Old Fashioned and both of those types are correct: Lets find out which one is more suitable for you?

Traditional Old Fashioned Drink Recipe

Classic Old Fashion

2 oz Bourbon Whiskey or Rye

1 Sugar Cube

3-4 drops Angostura Bitters

Splash of water

Orange zest and Marasca cheery  for garnish.

Old Fashion Glass 

Add the sugar cube into a Mixing Glass then soak it with angostura bitters an splash of water. By using a bar muddler slowly smash the sugar. Add few ice cubes and 1 oz of whiskey. Stir with a bar spoon 10 times. Add the rest of the whiskey and stir another 10 times. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour over a big ice cube in a Old Fashioned Glass by using a Julep Strainer. Express the orange zest over the drink and add it in the glass. Put one Marasca cherry. Enjoy!

Bar Tools You Need To Make The Cocktail:  Mixing Glass, Mixing Bar Spoon, Julep Strainer, Muddler, Y Fruit Peeler,

Key Ingredients: Angostura Bitters, Marasca Cherries, Sugar Cubes.

Time to make: 5 mins

Craft Cocktail Flavor: Sweet and strong notes balanced perfectly together

Mixology Chef  Recommendation (1-10) – 9

New Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

New Old Fashion

2 oz Bourbon Whiskey or Rye

1 cube of Brown Sugar

2-3 drops Angostura Bitters

1 Slice Of Orange

1 Marasca Cherry

Splash of soda water

Orange slice and marasca cherry for garnish

Old Fashion Glass

Add the sugar, orange slice and cherry into a Old Fashioned Glass and soak with 2-3 drops of angostura bitters. Muddle carefully with a muddler without breaking the cheery and the orange slice too much. Add a few cubes of ice and pour the whiskey. Stir with a bar spoon till you dissolve the sugar. Add a splash of soda water and mix few more times. Garnish with a orange slice and Marasca cherry. Enjoy!

Bar Tools You Need To Make The Cocktail: Muddler, Bar Spoon, Bar Knife

Key Ingredients: Brown Sugar, Angostura Bitters, Fresh Orange, Marasca Cherries

Time to make: 3 mins

Craft Cocktail Flavor: Fruity, sweet, a little strong, great balance and flavor.

Mixology Chef  Recommendation (1-10) – 7

Final Thoughts

So now you now what is an Old Fashioned and what is the main differences mentioned above. It is up to you to find the best choice and I highly suggest you to try both types. If you want to feel the strong and clean flavor of whiskey and experience the history behind this drink – try the first type. But if you want to have a different feeling and add a little more flavor and craft twist to it please try the second type. Above all – Either way are fine and correct. If you are a bartender already and want to impress your guests every time they order Old Fashioned, ask them which one they prefer. Explain the main differences and as a result you will achieve a little wow effect.

And Remember – Creating the perfect craft cocktail is an art!

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References used in this post:


The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy by Jim Meehan

The Curious Bartender: The artistry and alchemy of creating the perfect cocktail by Tristan Stephenson

The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique by Jeffrey Morgenthaler 

8 Replies to “Old Fashioned Or New Fashioned? Original Way To Make Old Fashioned Drink”

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