The old fashioned has come a long way since its inception. The term old fashioned did not refer to a specific cocktail but rather a mixology style. To serve any spirit “old fashioned,” one simply adds sugar, water, and bitters. Over time rye whiskey became the most popular spirit associated with this preparation, and the name stuck.
The most plausible origin story for this cocktail occurred in Louisville, Kentucky, at a private social club called the Pendennis Club. James E. Pepper introduced the cocktail to the club then later brought it to the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where it grew in popularity.
Louisville has made the old fashioned its official cocktail and celebrates it yearly with a two-week event called the Old Fashioned Fort Night.
While you can find traditional preparations of this cocktail, many have graduated from the simple addition of sugar, water, and bitters. Signature versions often replace the sugar with sweet liquor, amaro, or flavored syrup.
A traditional garnish for an old fashioned is an orange rind, with its oil expressed into the cocktail and a cherry. I prefer a quality cherry of the Luxardo variety, not one of those toxic bright red versions you find in a Shirley Temple.
Ice is another factor in a perfect old fashioned. A single large cube or sphere works best as they have the least surface area; they will melt slower. Smaller cubes contain more surface area and will melt more quickly, diluting the cocktail. The Henry even has a stamp for their ice, leaving an embossed surface appealing to the eye.
Coronado has a great lineup of Signature Old Fashioned cocktails at various watering holes from the Ferry landing to the Boathouse. Most bars in town will make an old fashioned, but the following establishments list their signature version on their cocktail menu.
Coronado’s Old Fashioned line up from Bay to Beach
- Orange Avenue Old Fashioned; Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Luxardo Cherry juice, bitters, block ice, Luxardo Cherry, orange peel. Nicky Rottens
- Barrel Aged Old Fashioned; Four Roses Bourbon barrel aged in-house with peppercorns, ginger syrup, orange and Angostura bitters, Luxardo Cherry, and an orange peel. Saiko Sushi
- Chamomile Old Fashioned; Monkey Shoulder blended malt scotch whiskey, honey water, orange, cinnamon and rosemary. Buona Forchetta
- Classic Old Fashioned; Savage & Cook Rye, Angostura bitters, Luxardo Cherry. The Henry
- Ube Old fashioned; Sazerac Rye Whisky, Ube syrup, Tiki Bitters. The Islander
- Smokey Old Fashioned; Laphroaig single malt scotch, Elijah Craig Rye, walnut bitters, Luxardo Cherrie, orange peel. Chez Loma
- Great Old Fashioned; Buffalo Trace Bourbon, muddled orange, Amarena cherry, raw sugar, and bitters, served over a glacier ice cube. The Tavern
- Apple Pie Old Fashioned; Old Grand Dad 100 Bourbon, Liquid Alchemist Apple syrup, Angostura bitters. The Bluewater Grill
If you love a good old fashioned, now you know where to go. Get out of the house, take a walk, and help support your local bartenders.
For more information on classic cocktails, Follow Chef Clyde Van Arsdall on Instagram @oliveavenuesupper or visit the website www.oliveavenuesupperclub.com. Tag me with your favorite version of an old fashioned on or off the island.