A Good Old-Fashioned Girl (a guest article by Josephine McCulley)

Josephine McCulley is a freelance writer for Associated Content and other sites.  Currently living on a couch in Arlington, Washington, she is also a certified personal trainer, a former communication professional in the luxury travel industry, and an extremely grateful survivor of Eric Nelson’s brilliant Latin classes at Pacific Lutheran University. (Editor’s note: I did not put her up to that, and I have to acknowledge that it was Susan, not me, who taught her to write so well.)

Enjoy it with a good old fashioned Superbowl game.

The Old-Fashioned

The name says it all, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more classic cocktail than the Old Fashioned. You’ll often find the drink described as the very first real cocktail on drink menus. And unlike the very first computer, the first car, or the first appearance of Superman, this first is not only just as enjoyable as it was back then, it’s just as lovely for every day perusal. Or, you know, every Friday night if you’re not quite so libatious.

Now, this is a drink I have admittedly never made for myself. Actually, I don’t even quite remember where I discovered the drink but it was very early on in my drinking career. I remember finding the Manhattan I’d ordered a little too robust to have a second one, and my bartender coyly suggested I try an Old Fashioned as long as I was drinking like his grandpa. I dare say his grandpa drinks very well. The drink tastes predominantly of whiskey and bitter orange, but sweet. A very pleasant, simple, classic combination from the days before mixers were so readily available.

According to Imbibe Magazine, the drink is made like so:

2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1/4 oz simple syrup or one sugar cube

orange peel

Ice cubes

Muddle your orange peel & simple syrup (add a splash of water if using a sugar cube) in an old fashioned glass. Add your bitters and whiskey and stir, add ice and stir again. Enjoy, just like grandpa used to make.As with many things that go way back, variations on the Old Fashioned abound. Often the drink is served with an actual orange slice, and often with a cherry as well, lending a slightly more fruity, sweet taste to the drink. Really, the extra fruit is unnecessary, the drink is plenty flavorful and sweet as is. But, the fruit can be a nice touch, especially if your prefer a sweeter drink. I really enjoy this addition on a hot summer day, or when I’m thinking of my drink as desert. On the other hand, some bartenders may not even bother with the orange peel. Again, the drink is still very enjoyable without the fruity infusion. There are also infinite variations with the whisky used, and the amount of bitters. Also, Old Fashioneds made with different spirits and different bitters abound as well, usually as a signature cocktail under a slightly different name.

Just the other week, I ordered an Old Fashioned at one of my favorite local dives. It was made with very cheap well whiskey, a sugar cube, water, and Angostura bitters. And, it was delicious and refreshing. The whole point of this cocktail, originally, was to cover up the taste of very poorly made and less-than-palatable spirits. This is a great poor man’s cocktail. Fell on hard times? Go ahead and buy the cheap whiskey. The bitters may seem a little pricey, but a bottle will last you a good while. Sugar is still cheap, and so is water and ice. And it’s a great cocktail for a night on the town, too. This is a favorite drink of mine while waiting for my flight at the Anthony’s Restaurant bar in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Pretty much every bartender over 35 will know how to make this drink by default, though you may have to jog their memory a tad. As per usual, bartenders at nice hotels and upscale establishments will know this drink like the back of their hand. But if your bartender looks young or if you’re at a bar with predominantly younger clientele, be prepared to educate your bartender, or maybe save it for a different bar.

Overall, fans of whiskey simply must try the Old Fashioned, at least once. Those who don’t like whiskey? Well, this one isn’t for you. But I would encourage you to try substituting your spirit of choice, although I think brandy might be a bit too sweet for this one, and gin might be a bit, well, odd. Otherwise, “Cheers!”

Source: Old-Fashioned-Cocktail-Recipe, IbibeMagazine.com


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3 Responses

  1. Russ McCulley says:

    I had not enjoyed an Old Fashioned in years until Jo penned this article. Great drink, great kid! Cheers!!

  2. Susan Nelson says:

    Hey Jo,

    From your old writing teacher…good job! And I remember my parents ordering this drink. It brings back good memories!

    Best to you,


  1. February 27, 2010

    […] can read about the Old Fashioned (you can read about the Old Fashioned here), relied on bitters for their flavor.  Citrus fruit and juices weren’t readily available, […]