No Fruit in My Old Fashioned?

Every so often, a bar guest asks why we don’t muddle fruit in our Old Fashioned at the Guild. He or she concedes that our version is pleasant, but insists that it’s not really an Old Fashioned without the fruit.

For years, bartenders have made the Old Fashioned the same way: muddle a cherry and an orange wedge along with some sugar, add bourbon and ice, and roll it once or twice. Some even topped it off with soda. It was next to impossible to find an Old Fashioned made differently for the better part of the 20th century, so it should come as no surprise that even a veteran Old Fashioned drinker might comment on the absence of the fruit and fizz. While it is a perfectly nice drink, it’s not an Old Fashioned in the historical sense.

In 1806, The Balance and Columbian Repository defined the world “cocktail,” as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” At this time, a cocktail was not any mixed booze drink; it was a specific type of drink, containing only spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Any addition or subtraction of ingredients made it something else entirely. Around this time, there were cobblers, flips, fizzes, fixes, slings, and juleps, none of which would have been called a “cocktail.”

It seems logical that an Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail should be a whiskey “cocktail” made in the old fashioned way.

Listed below is our recipe for the Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail. We use rye whiskey because it was the popular whiskey of the day. However, you can substitute any spirit that you like.

2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir with ice and julep strain into a chilled double old fashioned glass with one large ice sphere.

Garnish with lemon and orange peels.