Simple, elegant and tasty – this sums up an Old Fashion. This delightful cocktail is easy to make with few ingredients, and it is oh so smooth when it goes down. It is no wonder this drink has captivated its’ audience for over 200 years, and will continue doing so for another few hundred.
The interesting thing about this drink is that it can be made one of two ways, the first being as an old-fashioned “old fashion”, or a new-fashioned “old fashion.” The difference being the time frame of course, but we will get into that later.
Is an Old Fashioned an Acquired Taste?
It is rumored that an Old Fashion is George Lucas’ favorite drink, and it is mine as well. As far as it being an acquired taste, I will have to say that it is not. The original cocktail contains sugar, bitters, whiskey and water, but after prohibition in the 1930’s there were many twists on this classic favorite, and as bartending became a more complex career over the years, as with many other drinks this one began to evolve as well. The good news is you can still order it as it was originally intended in almost any bar that serves it.
Some bartenders like to garnish with a cherry while others use an orange wheel. And if you want an “Old-fashioned” old fashion, then leave the garnishes aside, get the bourbon out and a single peel of lemon. If one thing remains true about this drink, it can be enjoyed year-round, in the summer, in the winter, by a newbie or by a pro. It is divine in all its’ many variations: clear and simple. If you haven’t had one (and are over the legal limit), I would highly recommend ordering one the next time you are out and about and looking for something to sip on.
Foods that Pair With the Old Fashion
BBQ flavors, along with smoky and woody go great with a bourbon Old Fashion. So any flame-grilled or smoked meat will do fabulously with this cocktail, such as lamb (Mmmmm my favorite). If you are into slow-cooked meals, a slow roasted pork belly also goes nicely with an Old Fashioned.
As for appetizers, you could do dressed oysters or some sort of sausage hors d’oeuvre like pigs in a blanket, or lil’ smoky sausages. Walnuts have a nice flavor that pairs well with an Old Fashion. A walnut and gorgonzola salad would be a good place to start or a butter lettuce salad with dates and walnuts would also go nicely with this adult beverage. If you are not a fan of walnuts, you can always do a grilled chicken and pistachio salad instead. Who doesn’t like pistachios?
If nothing is tickling your fancy so far, you can always go with pickled vegetables or anything with a bit of salt and vinegar to pair with your bourbon old fashion. Additionally, don’t overlook the magic of briny and pungent cheeses as a starter or in-between.
History of the Old Fashion
Many sources cite the birth of the Old Fashion cocktail as 1806 in an issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in Hudson, New York which was also referred to as a bitters sling. The original Old Fashion was void of cherries, oranges, club soda and other add-ons, but during the prohibition in the 1930s these additions were used to cover up the smell of the alcohol in underground speakeasies.
James E. Pepper is said to have created the drink in Louisville but brought it to New York where the drink was rumored to have been invented. While I am sad to not know exactly who to pay tribute to this awesome adult beverage, I am extremely happy that it was created in the first place. Whether you enjoy an Old Fashion with whiskey, bourbon, rye the classic style or modern, one thing is certain: it hits the spot.
Remember to drink responsibly!
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