Classic Old Fashioned – “Old-School – But Never Out of Fashion” (Part One)

Old Fashioned is a very old cocktail that dates back to the beginning of the cocktail era. In the first article, we will briefly discuss the origins of this timeless classic and give you the recipe for the classic Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail. Enjoy.

Our story began in 1806 when the term “cocktail” was defined in the newspaper The Balance and Columbian Repository, where Harry Croswell, the editor, answered a citizen’s question, “What is a cocktail?” According to the written definition, a cocktail is a stimulating beverage consisting of various spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. Over time, new ingredients were added to the recipe, new cocktails were created, and cocktails made from the original recipe were simply called Old Fashioned. Later, it became synonymous with one particular cocktail made from American whiskey, and we’ll talk about it next.

In the early decades, the Old Fashioned cocktail was simply called a whiskey cocktail. By 1840, it had become one of the favorite cocktails of successful people.

In the early 1870s, fascinated by new alcoholic beverages, bartenders began to make new “advanced” whiskey cocktails. This, in turn, led to resentment amongst fans of the old-school cocktail that began to demand the classic, or Old Fashioned, whiskey cocktail – whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters. That’s how the classic Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail, which we all know, was born.

Over the years, various people and bars have claimed to be the inventors of this famous cocktail. But none of these claims have ever been fully substantiated. As we know that the Old Fashioned began its journey simply as a cocktail, in its most basic form, it is virtually impossible to assign anyone the honor of actually having invented it. Old Fashioned is more than just a cocktail, it’s a lifestyle – old-school but never out of Fashion.

In the following article, we’ll take a closer look at how this timeless classic evolved over the decades and what variations of this cocktail are popular today. In the meantime, try making one of the classic Old Fashioned whiskey cocktails.

Making a classic Old Fashion cocktail:

Ingredients: 60 ml of rye whiskey, 1-2 shots of Angostura bitters, 1 shot of ordinary water, 1 brown sugar cube (or 1 teaspoon of sugar syrup), some large ice cubes.

Be sure to use the Old Fashioned cocktail glass (traditionally the glass has a thick bottom and a wide opening). In a glass with a thick bottom, it is more convenient to crush the sugar cube.


  1. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of the glass and add:
    a. 1-2 shots of Angostura bitters
    b. 1 shot of ordinary water (this helps to dissolve/crush the sugar cube better)
  2. Crush the sugar cube completely
  3. Pour whiskey into the glass
  4. Add 1-2 larger ice cubes and mix

Author’s notes:

If you want a sweeter taste, use bourbon instead of rye whiskey. Use brown sugar or demerara sugar – the less processed, the better. You can replace the sugar cube with 1 teaspoon of sugar syrup. Since this is an alcoholic beverage only and is enjoyed in small sips, be sure to use larger than average ice cubes. The small ice cubes melt quickly, dilute the drink and do not keep it cool for long enough, which can change the taste of the drink.