The Original Bourbon Old Fashioned is a great example of what an American cocktail should be, it’s right up there with the Manhattan and the Martini, both in terms of popularity and nostalgia. The essence of the drink resides in the muddling of its fruit, sugar, and bitters. This muddling process inspired a sturdy heavy-bottomed glass where it’s specifically intended to occur. Accordingly, the simplicity of the cocktail is synonymous with its character: an apéritif that perfectly illustrates the profile of the whiskey it seats. Nevertheless, to make the drink you’ll need six ingredients: Kentucky bourbon, Angostura bitters, a sugar cube, a few cherries, an orange, and a lemon.
History of the Original Bourbon Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned was one of the first drinks specifically called a “cocktail.” The Sazerac is widely believed to be the first. Regardless, the earliest mention of the word “cocktail” was in the first decade of the 19th century (1806), in reference to a combination of spirit(s), sugar, bitters, and water. The “cocktail” evolved over time using rum, brandy, and even gin in various forms and measure.
In addition, other modifiers were added over time producing a vast array of flavors and combinations. But of all the “old fashioned” cocktail combinations that arose, the most widespread was made with whiskey, and became known as the whiskey cocktail. The “Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail” was later simplified to just the “Old Fashioned.”
Nevertheless, there isn’t a widely agreed upon time or place when/where the first Old Fashioned was created. However, there is a well-received origin story for the Original Bourbon Old Fashioned…it begins deep in Kentucky bourbon country.
The Original Bourbon Old Fashioned was created in the late 19th century. A bartender at the Pendennis Club of Louisville, KY developed it for a local distiller – James E. Pepper. Soon after, the cocktail was introduced to New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and from there quickly became of the most popular cocktails in the world, just like it is today.
The Old Fashioned is an amazing cocktail with many different styles, methods, and ingredients incorporated into its design. As a result, cocktail has taken on a life of its own, with seemingly endless variations, much to the delight of whiskey drinkers’ abound. However, the Original Bourbon Old Fashioned has been steadfast and remained loyal to its roots. Therefore, the intent of this recipe is to share the original design of the cocktail. But most importantly, its authenticity begins with the cocktail’s headliner, Kentucky bourbon.
Rye was the first type of whiskey used in the “Whiskey Old Fashioned.” But over the years other types have been introduced including blended whiskey(s), scotch, and most famously…Kentucky bourbon. The Original Bourbon Old Fashioned evolved with the style and quality of whiskey(s) available. For instance, during prohibition poorly-made whiskeys’ replaced high-quality (distillery-produced) spirits, forcing people to find better ways to drink their whiskey. So the use of bitters, sugar, and especially muddled fruits became a popular way to solve this problem. Today, whiskey is the best it’s ever been, so muddling fruits into the spirit is barbaric to some. However, it’s a nice touch if you’re looking for a fun and unique experience.
In short, the cocktail is basically a splash of bourbon in a rocks glass. So choose a quality whiskey. Although I don’t recommend a really high-end bourbon that costs $80+ per bottle, they’re for enjoying neat or on the rocks not defiling with bitters. Instead, look for a nice “mid-range” single-barrel or small-batch bourbon like Elijah Craig, Knob Creek, or Maker’s Mark. They’ll certainly do the trick without breaking the bank.
Next, there’s the muddling process. Muddling is really easy, so don’t be discouraged by an unfamiliar process. When you’re muddling remember that you’re not supposed to completely smash the ingredients, just like you shouldn’t demolish the mint when muddling a Cuban Mojito. Instead you’re simply trying to gently press the fruits and sugar just enough so their flavors disperse evenly and mix into your whiskey nicely. Finally, a few dashes of bitters adds just the right amount of spice to the cocktail, making for a truly exceptional combination of flavors.
How to Make an Original Bourbon Old Fashioned
An amazing Original Bourbon Old Fashioned cocktail recipe! Learn how to make an Original Bourbon Old Fashioned the right way. You’ll need six ingredients: Kentucky bourbon, Angostura bitters, sugar, cherries, an orange, and a lemon.
- 2 1/2 fl oz Kentucky Bourbon
- 3 Dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
- 1 Sugar Cube
- 3 Cherries
- 1 Orange
- 1 Lemon
- Cubed Ice
- Cut several thinly sliced orange wheels and set aside.
- Drop a sugar cube into the bottom of a chilled rocks glass.
- Saturate cube with bitters and muddle.
- Add an orange wheel, lemon zest (optional), and a cherry to the glass, muddle again.
- Fill glass with ice.
- Add bourbon and gently stir for 20-30 seconds.
- Garnish with an orange wheel, lemon peel, and cherries as desired.
- Let the drink sit for 3-5 mins (optional).
*Nutritional information is approximate and varies depending upon ingredients used.
- Category: Cocktails
- Serving Size: 1-3
- Calories: 215
Keywords: Old Fashioned, Bourbon, Whiskey, Angostura Bitters, Orange, Cherry
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