The Old-Fashioned

the old fashioned

the old fashioned

I learned how to drink alcohol between the ages of 21 and 25.

Learning how to drink is an exercise in irony.  It’s like you have to learn how not to drink in order to learn how to properly drink.

The lessons learned are often far too numerous and embarrassing to acknowledge.

Stay away from that dark rum.     You didn’t need to drink whatever was in the paper bag.     Any booze made in a bathtub is really really really not a good idea.     A shot on the way home from the bar is 100% foolish.     Every drink in Vegas will somehow multiply itself by WAY TOO MANY!    Tequila… ugh.     Cheap gin is downright criminal.     Dropping a shot into any other drink and consuming it quickly should be reserved for sushi karaoke bars, or better yet… NEVER.     Don’t Jagermeister anything.    You are not Tyra Banks in Coyote Ugly before she went to law school.      Vodka is not spicy water.

The lessons really are too many  to chronicle.  I mean…

I found my drink by figuring out what wasn’t my drink, a feat I hope you all approach gingerly. My drink order:  A Maker’s Mark Manhattan, up, with two cherries.  Gah… just to think of 21-year-old me ordering that drink makes me roll my eyes.  I was going for sophistication, poise, edge, knowledge, with a touch of sweetness.  Also… gag me with a spoon.  Right?  I think mostly I was trying to seem cool enough not to get carded.

These days, anyone that cards me is an angel sent from heaven.  Literally?  My drink of choice currently: an Old Fashioned, no cherry, extra twist and what kind of Rye Whiskey do you like best, bartender?  It’s simple and classic and admits defeat when it comes to proper rye whiskey knowledge.  I think it might also betray my Mad Men fan girl tendencies but I’m ok with that.

Here’s how!

the old-fashioned

Let’s do this one together.

Rocks glasses, a bit of turbinado sugar (if you don’t have sugar cubes), ice cubes (I love these super square cubes), bitters, club soda, rye whiskey (Bulleit Rye is dreamy), lemon and orange peel, and GO!

the old fashioned

A bit of sugar in the glass.  Just a small spoonful will do.

the old-fashioned

Bitters are sprinkled over the sugar.  Three dashes.

A tiny splash of club soda over the sugar and bitters.  Muddle muddle!

the old-fashioned

Add the ice.  Add the whiskey!

the old-fashioned

Peel lemon and orange zest from the fruit and spritz zest (not pith) side down into the cocktail.  This will release the essential oils into the cocktail.  I like to rub the zest along the rim of the glass… you know, like a real bartender (mixologist/cocktail maker/drinkist).

the old-fashioned

And there you have it!

A very fine, extra refined cocktail.  Enjoy one, not five.  We’re grown (I guess…).

The Old-Fashioned

makes 2 cocktails

Print this Recipe!

2 raw sugar cubes (or small spoonfuls of raw/turbinado sugar)

6 dashes bitters

2 quick splashes club soda

2 large or 4 medium ice cubes

4 ounces rye whiskey

2 lemon peels

2 orange peels

Find yourself two nice rocks glasses.  Place a sugar cube in each glass.  Drop three drops of bitter atop each sugar cube.  Add just a splash (like 1 teaspoon) of club soda to each glass.  Use a muddler to crush and mix the sugar and bitters.

Add one large or two medium ice cubes to each glass.

Add two ounces of whiskey to each glass.

Squeeze the yellow rind side of the lemon peel into the glass.  Run the yellow rind around the rim of the glass.  Drop the rind into the glass as garnish.  Do the same for the orange.  Serve and enjoy immediately.  


52 thoughts on “The Old-Fashioned

  1. As a born-and-bred Wisconsinite, I love brandy old-fashioneds. However, when in the cheese state, one orders an old-fashioned either sour (with Fresca) or sweet (with 7-Up). I prefer mine sweet with olives as garnish. I live across the border in Minnesota now and cannot find a Wisconsin-proper old-fashioned at any of the bars here. So sad.

  2. i love you for loving old fashioneds. I need to buy some bitters and make my own, but its been my go-to drink at the bar lately. dont judge me too harshly for keeping the cherries in it. and “Tyra Banks bf she went to law school?” LOL.

  3. There is nothing like a well made cocktail. Maybe I am weird but I can (and have) sit at the bar for hours watching the men and women behind the bar do their thing – its like observing a mad scientist at work. I read The Drunken Botanist a few months ago and highly recommend it if you really want to geek out on the plants & herbs that go into liquors/cocktails.

  4. I love, love old fashioneds. There’s something about that stout glass with clinking ice cubes that makes me feel like I know what to drink. Just like you said, it’s a learning process. Nothing showy and nothing too sweet.

    Thanks for sharing an awesome recipe.

  5. I’m a born and raised Wisconsinite (Cheesehead if you will) and we’ve long loved the Old Fashioned, however we make ours mostly with Brandy which is delicious. And always the cherry, muddled. Next time you are in or near Madison, there’s a great restaurant on the capital square called- wait for it- The Old Fashioned. Great drinks and great food!

  6. I love how Manhattans are making a comeback. It was my Dad’s signature drink made with Old Grand Dad Whiskey. He’d have one (or two) every night when he came home before dinner.I still remember the first time he let me make one for him. He just passed away 4 months ago at 91 so it’s fitting that I’m seeing Manhattans pop up allover. When my 2 kids were born he became “GrandDad”.

  7. I’m at that weird stage where I know what cocktails and wine I like to drink and I’m learning all about different spirits, bitters and cocktail types, but I still get it hideously wrong, like, once a month and my friends have to fill me in on all the “hilarious” bits I don’t remember. I’m working on it.
    Also I don’t think I’ve ever had an Old Fashioned with soda water in it, is that standard in the US?

  8. mmm, this looks like a good old grown-up drink. I’m from the UK so my ‘learning to drink phase’ was from the ages of 18-21…and i completely agree with you on the lessons learned the hard way. i used to think tequila was so cool but now i realise it’s pure evil! and shots for the road are always, always a bad idea. thanks for sharing your recipe!

  9. this is my favourite cocktail! i’m with you – i normally ask the bartender to make it in “their house way”, but with a bourbon. i’m looking forward to trying your version though ! happy friday :)

  10. I’m with you on skipping the cherry. Apparently bartenders will call it a fruit bowl and secretly sneer at you. I hate all the secret sneering.

    Adore those glasses.

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