The Old-Fashioned: A history

It has been said that you are what you eat. Apparently, you are also what you drink – especially when it comes to the Old-Fashioned. In a column on, Troy Patterson ruminates on the history of this “uniquely venerable beverage” – which many believe originated at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Ky. – and its various iterations thusly:

“The old-fashioned is at once ‘the manliest cocktail order’ and ‘something your grandmother drank,’ and between those poles we discover countless simple delights, evolutionary wonders, and captivating abominations. Because of its core simplicity and its elasticity—because it is primordial booze—ideas about the old-fashioned exist in a realm where gastronomical notions shade into ideological tenets.”

Early recipes called for sugar, water, bitters and a jigger of whiskey. Nowadays bartenders typically muddle an orange, top the cocktail with soda and add a cherry. Your interpretation, Patterson asserts, “says something serious about your philosophy of fun.” He likes his with rye. While he doesn’t address the drink’s city of origin, he does declare in one of many footnotes that “historically, the most important U.S. cocktail cities are, in order, New Orleans, New York, Louisville, and San Francisco.” (Read the entire article here.)

How do you prefer your Old-Fashioned?

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