Monday, September 26, 2011

Our first recipes! The old fashioned Old Fashioned

As we noted last time, the Old Fashioned is the closest thing to the original cocktail that we know of. But there is much disagreement over the correct way to make one. This won't be the first time we'll talk about disagreements over how to make a drink "correctly."

Modern American Drinks" by George J. Kappeler
One of the earliest recipes, from "Modern American Drinks" by George J. Kappeler, was written in 1895 (a full 89 years after the first publication of a definition of a cocktail). Kappeler instructs us to "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 [1.5 fl oz] whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass."

David Embury's classic book published in 1948 provides a slight variation, also generally accepted among purists:
  • 12 parts American whiskey
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • 1-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Twist of lemon peel over the top, and serve garnished with the lemon peel and a maraschino cherry
As with any recipe, many, many variations have been developed, and despite the purist insistence to adhere to recipes written as long as a century ago, the "correct" way to make the drink is the way the customer prefers. Most modern cocktail recipe books call for Rye or Bourbon whiskey, and also include topping the drink with soda. A good bartender might ask, "Rye or Bourbon?" and, "top it with soda or water?"

Two additional recipes from the 1900s vary in the precise ingredients, but continue to omit the cherry expected in a modern Old Fashioned, as well as the top off of soda water contested by cocktail purists. Orange bitters were highly popular at this time and, for the second recipe, the Curaçao appears to have been added to increase the orange flavor.

This one is from "Drinks as they are Mixed" by Paul E. Lowe (1904):

Use old-fashioned cocktail glass.
  • Sugar, 1 lump.
  • Seltzer, 1 dash, and crush sugar with muddler
  • Ice, one square piece
  • Orange bitters, 1 dash.
  • Angostura bitters, 1 dash
  • Lemon peel, 1 piece
  • Whiskey, 1 jigger
Stir gently and serve with spoon.

This is from "Jacks Manual" by Jack A. Grohusko (1908):

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters 
  • 1 dash Curaçao 
  • Piece of cut loaf sugar 
  • Dissolve in two spoonfuls of water 100% liquor as desired 
  • 1 piece ice in glass
Stir well and twist a piece of lemon peel on top and serve

These represent three of the earliest Old Fashioned recipes. Literally dozens more have been published and countless more variations concocted. Do you have a favorite Old Fashioned recipe? Let us know!

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