A great cocktail is a paradox.
It has simple ingredients, but a complex taste.
It’s classic, but also adaptable.
Nothing epitomizes this paradigm like the Old-Fashioned.
And nothing reveals that cocktail’s character like The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail with Recipes and Lore, released today.
The OF is part history, part celebration and (most importantly) part how-to-make.
“I like the drink’s simplicity,” says author Robert Simonson, also the spirits columnist at the New York Times.
“It’s the very definition of a cocktail at its most elemental,” he told us. “Plus, anyone can make one.”
Per Simonson, the Old-Fashioned has led a fascinating, tortured history: Civil War-era roots (Union soldiers received “Whiskey Cocktail” provisions), a fruity downfall mid-century (Simonson dubs this “sacchariferous window dressing”) and a recent rebirth (a.k.a. “The Mad Men Effect”).
As for the how-to: Simonson’s crafted a compendium of OF variations, involving green chartreuse, peanut-infused bourbon and even blueberry jam, sourced from early 20th-century bartending tomes and recipes from today’s mixology stars (Death & Co., PDT, The Violet Hour).
Here’s Simonson’s own take, featuring an “extra herbal, menthol punch.”
Anyway you pour it, it’s a classic.
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