When you’re in the mood for a bonafide classic that never stops being cool.
Total Time:0 hours 5 mins
rye or bourbon
dashes Angostura bitters
- Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass.
Wet it down with Angostura bitters and a short splash of club soda.
Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler, then rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining.
Add a large ice cube. Pour in the whiskey.
Garnish with an orange twist, and serve with a stirring rod if you’re so inclined.
You cannot get more classic than a classic Old Fashioned. This humble concoction of four ingredients—whiskey, sugar, bitters, and water—is quite literally the cocktail that started it all. It was that particular (and rather unremarkable) recipe that appeared alongside the first-ever printed use of the word “cocktail” way back in 1806. And 80 years later, the name “Old Fashioned” started getting tossed around in bars to describe said cocktail recipe. Yes, even the old-timers of the 1880s considered it to be an old-school drink. Since those sepia-toned days, the Old Fashioned has enjoyed illustrious comebacks as new generations of boozers have fallen for its simple charm. Our guess is human beings will be drinking Old Fashioneds until end times, because the damned drink will never not be cool.
All of which is to say, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail that’s been around for a while, and for good reason. The sweetness makes it smoother than a lot of other whiskey-based drinks, though it remains a strong-jawed, spirit-forward option. Fortunately, with few ingredients, it’s also an easy cocktail to master. We prefer ours with rye over bourbon.
A Little Background
There are two cultural touchpoints that show where we stand with Old Fashioneds these days. The first is Mad Men. Don Draper, ‘60s era marketing bad guy with killer style and ruthless charm, sipped Old Fashioneds made with rye, club soda, and cherry (we’ll allow it). He embodied the classic aura of Old Fashioned drinkers: stylish, successful, male. We loved him, and the show, for it. Ryan Gosling’s character in Crazy, Stupid, Love fit that bill, too, with a 21st-Century twist. He made his Old Fashioned the traditional way, at his home bar late at night, then did the Dirty Dancing lift with a love interest—a devastating combo.
And perhaps that’s why men, especially younger men, have always flocked to the cocktail: It’s alcoholic comfort food that never lost its cool. But seeing the Old Fashioned as just a traditionally men’s drink is a stiff way to look at it.
“We get a lot more women ordering traditional Old Fashioneds, and so I definitely see a lot more diversity,” says Annie Beebe-Tron, bar manager at the Ladies’ Room in Chicago. “You don’t want to assume the Old Fashioned is his and the shaken cocktail is hers, which it often isn’t.”
Cocktail culture evolves, and classic whiskey drinks like the Old Fashioned don’t exude exclusionary male-ness the way they used to. Thank goodness
BY SARAH RENSE