Whisky Magazine Issue 46
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In the latest of his series on classic cocktails, Ian Wisniewski looks at the Old-Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is more than just a whisky cocktail, it's also a concept, as the same principle of sweetening, chilling and diluting can be applied to other aged spirits, such as rum or brandy, to make an alternative old fashioned with an individual flavour.
Originally created as a bourbon cocktail in the 1880s, the venue was the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen's club in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe is believed to have been a joint effort between a bartender, and a bourbon distiller, Colonel James E. Pepper, though history doesn't relate their individual contributions. The Pepper family had a long tradition of distilling bourbon, owning a distillery on the site now occupied by Labrot & Graham. Ordering an Old Fashioned is actually the beginning of a discussion, as there are various options at each stage that influence the final flavour.
The initial choice is the style, not to mention the brand and age of whiskey, with bourbon typically sweeter than rye whiskey (which matters as the cocktail is subsequently sweetened). At The Pendennis Club, where the Old Fashioned is definitely a speciality, one option is the Pendennis Bourbon, an exclusive bottling for the club.
However, a sugar cube is the first ingredient placed into a tumbler, technically an ‘Old Fashioned' glass, which is a rare example of glassware being named after a cocktail.
Choosing white sugar means a lighter, less caramelised sweetness than brown sugar, though whatever the colour, sugar cubes can vary sign...