The Old Fashioned

There have been several classic cocktails I’ve been waiting to make because they called for maraschino cherries. And being the cook/stickler for authenticity that I am, I didn’t want to use the sicky sweet, neon red maraschino cherries you find at the grocery store. I wanted to use the kind that you make yourself using, what else, maraschino liqueur. Now that I’ve created my own cherries, I’m ready to tackle some of the original classics.

Last week I brought you the Tom Collins. This week we have the Old Fashioned. This drink has been around since before the Civil War. Early 1800’s to be specific. Originally a cocktail was a morning drink made up of a little water, a little sugar, a lot of alcohol and a splash of bitters. I don’t know about you, but that is not what I think of as a morning cocktail. To me a morning cocktail is either a mimosa or bloody mary. I know, I’m just so modern. The point is, what used to be considered a cocktail is exactly what an Old Fashioned is: sugar, bitters, water and alcohol, specifically bourbon or rye.

People believe the cherries and orange slices that you now find in Old Fashioneds can be blamed on the Prohibition when alcohol was downgraded to this side of poison. The only way bartenders found that their patrons could stomach the harsh elixirs was if they added sweet fruit juices and/or sugar.

While the original recipe calls for bourbon or rye and no fruit whatsoever, a more modern version calls for brandy and fruit. I’ve combined the two. While I have no problem drinking Bourbon (as long as it’s Woodford) straight, I like to add a little color and sweetness, hence the fruit. So, without further ado, the Old Fashioned, a tasty drink no matter what time of day.

Old Fashioned

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • club soda
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 orange slice

Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Wet it down with the bitters and enough club soda to cover the cube. Muddle the sugar cube until the sugar lines the bottom of the glass.  Add a couple ice cubes.  Pour the bourbon over the ice, give it a stir, garnish with a cherry and a slice of orange  and enjoy… slowly. This is one seriously strong drink.