In 1948, a New York tax-attorney-turned-cocktail-whiz published The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, which to this day remains an indispensable bartending guide. Its author, David A. Embury, held that six cocktails reign above all others, and perched atop his list is the Old Fashioned, a marvel of simplicity and elegance that has endured almost as long as these United States. For the better part of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Old Fashioned was perhaps the most fashionable drink being imbibed. By the 1990s, however, it had all but disappeared, as the masses fell under the siren spell of frothy, fruity atrocities like the Cosmopolitan. Fortunately, by the early aughts, the Old Fashioned had been restored to its rightful place at the top of the list.
Mix it Up
The Old Fashioned is an exercise in simplicity. If you mess with it much, it quickly ceases to be an Old Fashioned. That said, feel free to swap the whiskey around for a variety of bourbons and ryes that satisfy your palate (in our experience the higher the proof, the more delicious).
The Old Fashioned is one of the most refined cocktails you can sip. But something happens when you start to toy with the recipe the way dive bars do—muddling sickly sweet maraschino cherries with orange slices and topping the whole shebang with soda water. While we certainly wouldn’t call this concoction an Old Fashioned proper, the backbo...