Hey gents,

Welcome to the first blogisode of The Effortless Guide to Cocktails. This will be a semi-regular series where we discuss classic, manly cocktails you can order at any bar, anywhere in the world (probably).

An Introduction

Drinking ain’t what it used to be. Back in college, you could meander down to the local pub with your bros and order rounds of Jager Bombs till you vomited on your shoes and the bartender cut you off, and no one would blink an eye.

Fast forward several years, and you’ve blossomed into a career-driven, upstanding gent-in-training looking to class it up a bit, but still have a good time when you’re out at the bars.

Maybe you deal with clients during the week and find yourself ordering drinks with dinner. Perhaps you’re forced to go out with the boss a lot, and you have to watch what he orders so you can pick your drink accordingly (because it would look bad nursing a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade while he sips his scotch neat). Or maybe you’re just tired of the vodka cranberry and you want options.

This new series explores different basic cocktails that, when ordered, will give off the impression that you 1.) have taste, 2.) know what you’re doing, 3.) are a grown-ass man and know your way around a drink list without having to read it, or 4.) all of the above.

The Old-Fashioned

My favorite classic cocktail is the Old-Fashioned. Simple, delicious, has history, and does its job (especially after two or three re-ups).

Typical Ingredients

In an Old-Fashioned, you’ll find a combination of most of these ingredients:

  • Bourbon whiskey
  • ice
  • orange slice
  • lemon twist
  • maraschino cherries
  • simple syrup
  • sugar cube
  • bitters
  • soda water

Recipe Variations

The oldest-known recording of this drink is from 1895, in George Kappeler’s “Modern American Drinks”.

“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 whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass.”

Modern Additions

If you go to a bar today, you’ll notice bartenders adding their own flair to the classic recipe, often muddling the ingredients with an orange slice, garnishing with a maraschino cherry, replacing the sugar cube with simple syrup, or topping with soda water.

Unless you’re a purist, you shouldn’t care too much about these modern additions. If you wanted to have the original (or something close to it) you can try ordering it as the original recipe suggests.

What say you?

Have you had an Old-Fashioned before? What’s your favorite classic cocktail? Do you have suggestions of other classic drinks you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comments below.

RSVP to our event!

Our friends at Sledgehammer Wine are putting on quite a launch event for us at Cellar360, in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square. But it won’t be any fun if you don’t attend!

Check out our launch info page here: http://fifthandbrannan.com/launch

It’ll be a grand ol’ time, with a duo of Sledgehammer reds and other great brands being poured, some cheeses and other finger foods, a sweet photo setup by Smilebooth, a raffle giveaway, and of course the chance to check out our shirting, pocket squares, and ties, all available for purchase at our event.

RSVP on our Facebook event page by clicking here.

Spread the word, and K and I look forward to meeting you guys there!


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15 Responses

  1. Barron on

    Mmm, you guys gave me good ideas about the upcoming posts in this series. And you also made me wish it was Friday already.

  2. Albert on

    My goto drink when I’m out with friends is Henessy and Grand Marnier 50:50 on the rocks. I think the drink has a name, but I don’t know what it is. My favorite drink though.

  3. Dan on

    I like this – nothing like knowing how to make a good cocktail. But there was no recipe for the Old Fashioned! Do you just mix them all together?

    • Barron on

      Oh, good point. There are several ways to make it, but typically I see the ingredients (sugar, orange/cherry, bitters) muddled and then ice and bourbon are added. That quote up top under “Recipe Variations” is the first known recipe.

  4. Aaron on

    This is your favorite classic cocktail, yet you insist we “shouldn’t care too much about modern additions” such as a mound of muddled fruit and club soda???

    What if modern bartenders decided to make the same “modern additions” to the term “neat”?  That would be ridiculous, right?  Because words actually do have meaning and a person ought to be able to order a whisky served neat at a bar without getting fruit and club soda, right?  Well call me a “purist” but the name “Old Fashioned” deserves the same respect.  The name came into being when newer style cocktails were catching on and some people still wanted a regular old whiskey cocktail served the old fashioned way… meaning sugar, bitters, and rocks and nothing more.  A simple garnish to dress it up a notch is a personal choice.  Fine. I like a small twist of orange myself to set off the bitters.  But anything beyond that simply is not the same cocktail.  And a muddled fruit salad in an otherwise clean and simple cocktail whose very name is supposed to insulate it from such modern corruption is just offensive.  Yet that’s what I get 9/10 times I order it from someone I don’t already know and trust.  I shouldn’t have to accept that any more than I should have to accept a well done steak when I ordered it medium rare.  I like your drink entries alot of the time. But I think you should consider giving the Old Fashioned a bit more respect so maybe one day when word gets around I can perhaps walk into a bar I’ve never been to before and order this REALLY simple drink without having to tell the bartender how to make it.

    • Barron on

      Have a bad bar experience recently? Too many umbrellas in your whiskey neat?

      I typically don’t have a difficult time ordering an old-fashioned. I never have to tell the bartender to hold the muddled fruit. Then again, I go to great bars, and San Francisco is having some sort of classic drink revolution, complete with mustachioed mixologists behind the counter. Maybe you need to start frequenting a different kind of bar?

      I can see where you’re coming from though, and that’s why I suggest ordering it like the original recipe suggests if you want to experience it the way men did back when the drink was first invented. Drinks evolve, bartenders get creative, and new standards are set… seems that’s just the natural way of things. And I assure you, my EGC segment on this site isn’t what led the revolution.

      If you’re super passionate about this particular drink, surely it’s not too much trouble to specify how you want it when you arrive at an unfamiliar bar. If the bartender is smart, he’ll happily oblige.

  5. Aaron on

    This is your favorite classic cocktail, yet you insist we “shouldn’t care too much about modern additions” such as a mound of muddled fruit and club soda???

    What if modern bartenders decided to make the same “modern additions” to the term “neat”?  That would be ridiculous, right?  Because words actually do have meaning and a person ought to be able to order a whisky served neat at a bar without getting fruit and club soda, right?  Well call me a “purist” but the name “Old Fashioned” deserves the same respect.  The name came into being when newer style cocktails were catching on and some people still wanted a regular old whiskey cocktail served the old fashioned way… meaning sugar, bitters, and rocks and nothing more.  A simple garnish to dress it up a notch is a personal choice.  Fine. I like a small twist of orange myself to set off the bitters.  But anything beyond that simply is not the same cocktail.  And a muddled fruit salad in an otherwise clean and simple cocktail whose very name is supposed to insulate it from such modern corruption is just offensive.  Yet that’s what I get 9/10 times I order it from someone I don’t already know and trust.  I shouldn’t have to accept that any more than I should have to accept a well done steak when I ordered it medium rare.  I like your drink entries alot of the time. But I think you should consider giving the Old Fashioned a bit more respect so maybe one day when word gets around I can perhaps walk into a bar I’ve never been to before and order this REALLY simple drink without having to tell the bartender how to make it.