Pull up a barstool and lend an ear because today, we’re getting into the captivating tale of an all-time classic – the Old-Fashioned cocktail

Now, you might be thinking, “Old-Fashioned? Isn’t that just the granddad of cocktails?” You wouldn’t be wrong, but this venerable drink has more up its sleeve than you might imagine.

It’s the early 19th century. The cocktail as we know it today is still an embryonic concept. In taverns across the United States, patrons are raising their glasses to a drink that’s elegant in its simplicity yet profoundly transformative. 

That drink? You guessed it – the Old-Fashioned.

Long before the Mojito made mint a mainstay, or the Cosmopolitan made cranberry a cocktail essential, the Old-Fashioned was doing its thing with nothing more than sugar, water, bitters, and whiskey. But how did this minimalist marvel become the cornerstone of the cocktail culture it is today? 

The Birth of the Old-Fashioned Cocktail

First stop: the early 1800s, the dawn of the cocktail era. At this point, the word “cocktail” was used to describe any combination of spirits, water, sugar, and bitters. Sounds familiar? That’s because these are the very ingredients that make up our beloved Old-Fashioned.

As the years went by, bartenders started getting a little experimental, throwing in all sorts of newfangled liqueurs and garnishes. Not everyone was on board with this cocktail revolution, though.