On May 13, 1806, The Balance and Colombia Repository printed the first known definition of the word “cocktail”
`Cocktail, then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling`
This somewhat unsavoury sounding mix is what we today call the Old Fashioned.
Like almost all things alcohol related, there are disputes as to who coined the name instead of it just remaining ‘Cocktail,’ the members of the Pendennis Club claimed for some time in their blustery Colonel Sanders way that the name belonged to a Bourbon Cocktail made in the club. David Wondrich, who looks not dissimilar to a member of the Pendennis Club, discounted this theory by uncovering a wealth of examples of the use of the word prior to the Club’s foundation in 1880.
But I digress.
The Old Fashioned Cocktail
Take a sugar cube* and douse it in three or four belts from a bottle of Angostura Bitters, slide this into the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass. I use at least 60 of good quality Bourbon in my version, Maker’s Mark would be a fine choice. Add a little of the Bourbon, with a couple of pieces of ice and start stirring. Keep adding a little more Bourbon, a little more ice and perhaps around 15 mls water.
The result is an amazingly balanced, rich and seductive elixir.
*I prefer to use a cube of sugar as the time it takes to get it to dissolve is around the same time it take to mellow this drink to a superior level.
This cocktail is amazingly adaptable, you can change out the spirit for a Rye Whiskey, Brandy, Cognac or Rum.
At Toko on Crown St they do a Old Fashioned with Junipero Gin and there is a fashionable trend for Tequila Old Fashioneds around the world right now.
Once you’ve tried a variety of spirits, perhaps making a move on to changing out the bitters. Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers Peach or Orange Bitters, even Aperol or Campari. I’ll post an article later in the week about the process of homemaking bitters as well, to really change things up.
This really is a drink for the ages, we’ll be putting this up against the Trans-Galactic GargleBlaster when we make it to the restaurant at the end of time.