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The Old Fashioned

Posted by Reese on 2008-07-26 @ 11:16am

Well we’ve reached the last of Embury’s Six Basic drinks, the Old Fashioned.  Per Wikipedia, the Old Fashioned is thought to have been created as a Bourbon Whiskey cocktail at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, KY.  Then popularized by distiller Colonel James E. Pepper and later brought to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Pendennis Club Circa 1906

Pendennis Club Circa 1906

The Old Fashioned is truly an exercise in elegance through simplicity.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t need to be crafted with just as much care as a more complex recipe.  Robert Hess explained it thus: “When properly made, this cocktail can represent the pinnacle of the bartenders trade. When done improperly, which is more often the case, it can be a disaster of mediocrity.”  Robert also has an incredible chronology of the Old Fashioned at his site.

Embury’s Recipe holds true to the first known recipe (see Robert’s site, linked above) but adds a speared Maraschino cherry as a garnish.

“Pour into each glass 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls simple syrup and add 1 to 3 dashes Angostura. Stir with a spoon to blend the bitters with the syrup. Add about 1 oz. whisky and stir again. Add 2 large cubes of ice, cracked but not crushed (see page 100). Fill glass to within about 3/8″ of top with whisky and stir again. Add a twist of lemon and drop peel in the glass. Decorate with a maraschino cherry on a spear. Serve with short stir rod or Old-Fashioned spoon.” – David A. Embury, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks

Or in a more digestible format.

Embury's Old Fashioned:
2 oz Whiskey
1-2 tsp Simple Syrup
1-3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine Syrup, Bitters and 1/2 of the Whiskey in an Old Fashioned Glass
2) Stir to combine
3) Add two cubes of ice
4) Add remaining whiskey and stir again to until cold
5) Garnish with a twist of lemon and a maraschino cherry

This cocktail is the only one of Embury’s basic drinks that isn’t served in a cocktail (martini) glass.  Rather, it’s served in an Old Fashioned glass, named for the drink served within.  You can also use a small water/juice glass in a pinch.  The key is to not use a glass that’s much larger than the volume of the cocktail, it won’t look quite right.

After making the other cocktails we’ve covered you have all the ingredients you need, but here’s a quick run down.

  • Whiskey (Try a Bourbon)
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Lemon

The tools you’ll need are very simple.

  • Old Fashioned or Other Small Glass
  • Measuring Device (Jigger)
  • Bar Spoon (Or other stirring stick)

Enjoy your Old Fashioned!