The History Behind the Popular Old Fashioned

The History Behind the Popular Old Fashioned

Enter any restaurant known for its sophisticated cocktails and you won’t simply find, old fashioned on the menu; you’ll find an entire list of different variations of this brown liquor classic.

What Makes an Old Fashioned?

What is this nostalgic yet modern drink that makes us feel like we should be wearing Fedoras and smoking cigars in a 1920s Chicago supper club?

Well, the history behind the popular old fashioned tells us it truly is originally a bourbon whiskey drink. Just don’t say that in Wisconsin, or you’ll start another war between the states. They believe if a question needs an answer, that answer is probably brandy. (We love you, Wisconsin!)

That nostalgic feeling of a classy, old city stems from the fact that there is pretty good evidence pointing to Chicago as the city that made the old fashioned a staple in classic cocktails.

It’s survived not only prohibition, but also relentless bartenders insisting on changing it. Purists resist, so the bourbon old fashioned remains. Here’s what makes it fabulous:

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  • 2 tsp simple syrup
  • 2 dashes of bitters
  • One slice of orange peel
  • Ice ball or 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 Luxardo cherry (not everyone chooses the cherry—but why not?)

Stir the bourbon, bitters, and syrup with ice in a separate glass or shaker. Rub the orange peel around the rim of your glass and prepare for a beautiful aroma of fresh orange.

Drop the ice ball in the glass, along with the orange peel and cherry (some like to muddle the cherry), then pour in the cold concoction, find a comfy chair, and sip for hours.

The Competition To Claim the Old Fashioned

There has never truly been a competition, but as with most things considering bourbon whiskey, there are a couple who insist it’s their original.

As mentioned, Chicago may be the winner, thanks to the written word. In 1880, the pharse old fashioned cocktail was printed in the Chicago Tribune.

Still, the bourbon state of Kentucky says it was invented in the bluegrass state. After all, it’s bourbon. Decide for yourself; personally, we are just glad it came to be.

Either way, an interesting fact about the old fashioned is it used to be recommended as a morning drink in the late 1800s. You know, sort of a pre-breakfast of champions. Wow.

In conclusion, we feel the history behind the popular old fashioned is fun to know, but not what matters. Drink it how you like it.

When in Wisconsin, respect the brandy and raise your glass to fellow old fashioned fans. When in Kentucky, thank them for their fine invention of our favorite amber spirit. And when in Chicago, be taken back to flapper dresses and wild nights as you slowly inhale the sweet and spicy aroma of the forever classic, old fashioned cocktail.