The Different Tastes of an Old Fashioned
Have you ever sipped on an Old Fashioned and wondered why it never tastes the same as the last one? This could be for a number of reasons: the bar might not have bitters; the bartender muddles an orange slice with grenadine; or maybe it was mixed with soda water.
What is an Old Fashioned?
In an article from 1806 in The Balance and Columbian Repository, the editor’s response to a reader question was that a cocktail is a mixture of spirits, sugar, water and bitters. This lead to the creation of an Old Fashioned recipe: bonded bourbon, Demerara syrup and Angostura & Regans’ orange bitters. Pour that mixture over ice in a rocks glass without stirring it, and you have an Old Fashioned. The cocktail is meant to be enjoyed as it is, and stirring it dilutes the flavors, effectively taking away from the drinker’s personal preference of how they enjoy it.
What About the Garnish?
Early sightings of the iconic drink show either a lemon or an orange peel, while later records show the use of an orange slice and a cherry. At the Old Chicago Inn, we decided to use a middle-of-the-road garnish: an orange peel and a maraschino cherry. This delivers the tangy citrus expression without adding the juice from a full slice, and the cherry on top of the glass sweetens the drink.
Another reason to love the cocktail, even though it was not invented in Chicago, the city coined the name in 1888. Chicago’s Theodore Proulx (who worked at the Chapin & Gore bars where the offices of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra now stand) published his Bartender’s Manual, in which the name “Old Fashioned” was first coined.
A timeless classic, iconic flavors and a powerful name all make the Old Fashioned a great drink choice for any evening out. The next time you order one, ask your bartender about it’s younger cousin from 1941, the Fancy Free.