It is one of the few cocktails that survived from the days of the Martini and the Manhattan. When prepared well, it is a full-bodied, delicious drink. It was one of my mother's favorites as a young woman in the 1940's and still carries the glamour of the era.
Accounts agree that the Old Fashioned originated at the Pendennis Club, in Louisville, Kentucky.
This Old Fashioned recipe appeared in a book written by George J. Kappeler, published in 1895, called Modern American Drinks.
THE OLD-FASHIONED WHISKEY COCKTAIL
Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass; add two dashes Angostura bitters, a small piece ice, a piece lemon-peel, one jigger whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass.
Robert Hess, writing for Drinkboy.com, cautions that it is common for modern bartenders to top off the drink with an ounce or more of soda. In his opinion, the soda spoils the drink.
Here is another recipe from Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix'em by Stanley Clisby Arthur.
Old Fashioned Cocktail
1 lump sugar
2 dashes Peychaud or Angostura bitters
1 jigger rye whiskey
1 piece lemon peel
1 chunk pineapple
1 slice orange peel
2 maraschino cherries
Into a heavy-bottomed barglass drop a lump of sugar, dash on the bitters, and crush with a spoon. Pour in the jigger of rye whiskey and stir with several lumps of ice. No shaking allowed! Let the mixture remain in the glass in which it is prepared. Garnish with a half-ring of orange peel, add the chunk of pineapple and the cherries with a little of the maraschino juice. Twist the slice of lemon peel over all and serve in the mixing glass with the barspoon.
It is suggested by some that it is best to dissolve the sugar into a small amount of water first since sugar does not dissolve well in alcohol.
The appearance of additional fruit became commonplace after the days of prohibition.
Try both versions and decide which you prefer.
About the Author
Ellen M. Zucker owns a site where you can find advice on party and event planning from Party Pros. It includes tips, interviews, and advice on putting your event together from professionals who make parties and special events happen.