tried and true

for today's tried and true, i felt inspired to bring you more than just a product. another passion of mine is cooking and entertaining (i worked in restaurants and coffee shops for years and even owned my own catering business for awhile), and i've been longing to incorporate more of that passion into the gather and hunt blog, while remaining true to the vintage theme. so today, i bring you a tried and true cocktail: the old fashioned.

Mad Men's Don Draper drinking an old fashioned
{image via}
the old fashioned, which many people have become familiar with thanks to Mad Men (it's Don Draper's cocktail of choice), is one of the oldest American cocktails. officially introduced by James E Pepper, a bourbon distiller, in the 1880's at the Pendennis Club in Kentucky, it's a cocktail in its truest form: spirits, bitters, water and sugar. though there is a bit of debate among purists about the recipe for an old fashioned, it's generally considered to consist of bourbon or rye whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a twist of lemon or orange. some recipes also call for soda water and a cherry. one of the earliest accounts, written in 1885, has this recipe: "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 or 44 ml] whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass." (Modern American Drinks: How to Mix and Serve All Kinds of Cups and Drinks). 

the old fashioned has long been my own drink of choice. not too sweet, the flavors mingle well with the spicy bite of bourbon (my favorite spirit). though i make it at home frequently, i do enjoy one when prepared by a good bartender as well. the claim of the best old fashioned i've ever had belongs to Kings Hardware, in Seattle. there, they understand that the drink should not contain giant chunks of fruit which can obscure the flavor of the bourbon. even better- the cherries they use are made in house, not like the bleached-then-dyed-red maraschinos most bars use.

now for my personal recipe...

you'll need:

whiskey of choice (today i'm using Bulleit Rye)
soda water (not tonic water)
Angostura bitters (or your bitter of choice, i like to experiment)
slice of a smaller, ripe orange (tangerines and blood oranges work well too)
sugar (i prefer evaporated cane juice)
cocktail cherries (mine are homemade, but most specialty stores sell nicer cocktail cherries)
ice cubes
old fashioned glass (or any glass with slightly rounded sides and a fairly broad base)
cocktail spoon

make it:

add 1 t. sugar (more if you like it sweet) to the bottom of an old fashioned glass.

add 4-8 dashes bitters to sugar (if you've never had bitters, start with 4, then add to taste).

squeeze the juice from one orange slice into glass. swirl mixture around to partially dissolve the sugar.

add ice. true purists would say to use 1 large cube, but i like to use tiny little ones- about 1/3 a cups worth.

add soda water. the amount depends upon your preferences. i usually use about 3-4 oz (a little less than 1/2 cup), but i like mine to taste mostly like whiskey, so if you may want to add more.

add whiskey to taste. again, i like mine fairly strong so i generally use 2-3 oz (a little more than a large jigger full), but you may like it with less or more.

to finish you have two options...

add the orange slice you previously squeezed and a cocktail cherry (i love cherries, so i usually use closer to 5), plus a little of the syrup from the cherries.

serve with a cocktail spoon (the true old fashioned way to do it).


if you want to be extra fancy, skewer an orange slice and a cherry and place in glass. let your guests squeeze their own orange slice into the drink.


if you try making this at home i'd love to know what you think! if you're already an old fashioned drinker, i'm always interested in variations on the recipe as well- leave me a comment!

happy may day!