Old fashioned. Even the name sounds sophisticated enough that anyone ordering one immediately elevates in status.
According to VinePair, the first mention of the recipe for an old fashioned was in May 1806, when a reader of an upstate New York newspaper wrote in asking for a clarification of what a cocktail was. The response from the newspaper stated that “a cocktail for all posterity as a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.”
Interestingly in 1862 the first recipe specifying an actual type of liquor appeared in “The Bar-Tender’s Guide,” in which one poured a jigger of…gin. Yep, gin.
The cocktail that we all know and love today using Bourbon was credited to James E Pepper in 1880, where he created the drink in Louisville—conveniently the home of Bourbon—and then took it to Waldork-Astoria in New York City [The Thrillist].
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Of course, at this point I’m sure you’re thinking “that’s nice but what’s it got to do with me?”
Well, I’m not here to just share a bit of trivia but thought that with the upcoming holidays it might be fun to spice it up a little bit. I have scrubbed the interwebs and curated a list of fun ways to have an old fashioned holiday:
First, cranberry because…Christmas! Christmas Old Fashioned
The next one is maple and you’ll see that they used Crown Royal—and why not? If you’re going to be adding maple, you might as well geek out a bit and use a Canadian whiskey. Maple Old Fashioned
A spiced simple syrup and cherry bitters? Excuse me? First of all I didn’t even know cherry bitters existed! But it does and you can find it on Amazon. And secondly, after you get the cherry bitters definitely make this drink!
Did someone say Pecan Pie? Please note for this recipe the whiskey is infused with the pecans, so you’ll need a few days to prep for this (aka unless you just like having pecans soaking in whiskey around the house and color me impressed if you do!). But still….pecan infused whiskey, y’all! Toasted Pecan Old Fashioned
Finally, I would feel remiss if I didn’t include a recipe of my own and as an added bonus: the smell that fills the house while making the simple syrup will have you ready for the holidays in no time!
Shez’s Holiday Old Fashioned
Cran-Rosemary Simple Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups fresh cranberries (or frozen—just don’t used the canned stuff), roughly smashed—I just put them in a plastic bag and give them a few whacks with my rolling pin. You don’t need to smash them to bits, you just want to open them a little.
- 2 sprigs of rosemary thoroughly washed
Add water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, stirring until completely melted. Add the cranberries and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add rosemary sprigs and cook for another minute before removing from heat and allowing mixture to cool. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. While you have the fresh cranberries out—you could pick a handful to wash and sugar coat for garnish. Also the left over cooked cranberries make a great topping for baked brie!
Assembling The Drink
- 1 generous bar spoon/teaspoon cran-rosemary syrup
- 2 dashes of bitters
- 2 ounces whiskey of your choice
- 1 large Spherical ice cube or a handful of regular ones
- Garnish: sprig of Rosemary and if you want to be extra fancy, sugar-coated cranberries
Grab an old-fashioned glass (aka a rocks glass aka a lowball glass aka something short and wide that has a sturdy bottom). To the glass, add the syrup and bitters. Stir gently until mixed. Add the ice cube—or if you don’t have large cubes, fill the glass half way with smaller ice cubes. Pour the whiskey over the ice and gently stir until the drink is cold. Add garnish. Take a sip. Take another sip, pause, look around, and then sneak out the backdoor to enjoy the sweet tanginess of this holiday drink with a bit of peace and quiet.