In the beginning (actually sometime immediately after distilled spirits began to be produced and consumed for enjoyment) someone, somewhere decided that their Brandy just didn’t taste all that good. (Maybe it was actually Whiskey or Rum, but most of my research indicates that Brandy was the original cocktail spirit so we will go with that for now.) Anyways, someone, somewhere decided that drinking these distilled spirits ought to be just a little easier and a little more enjoyable than it was so that person added a bit water and sugar to the spirit in an attempt to make it just little more affable. In fact, this type of experimentation with distilled spirits probably went on for many years (and in many different places) as there was certainly many more persons who wanted to better enjoy their spirits (and to stop grimacing after every swallow).
At some point, (soon after the turn of the nineteenth century) this idea had coalesced into a recipe of sorts and the first ‘cocktail’ was born. And that is exactly what the serving was called, a cocktail. This early form of the recipe was quite generic; it was basically a mixture of distilled spirit, sugar, water and bitters.
As time went forward, the idea evolved, and if you research the recipes from the mid-nineteenth century you will find that new constructions had come forward which built upon this original. If a bit of fruit and a sweet liqueur was added the cocktail became a ‘Fancy Cocktail’. If a sugar rimmed glass was introduced the serving became a ‘Crusta’, and if mint was muddled into the rest of the ingredients the results were a ‘Smash’.
These new forms of mixed drinks were popular; but at some point, patrons began to yearn for that ‘Old Fashioned’ Cocktail which started it all. All that fancy stuff, the sugar rimmed glass, the slice of fruit, and the muddled mint seemed to some to be too complicated and pretentious. I can imagine frustrated patrons gazing at the complicated mixed drink menu proclaiming, “All I want is an old fashioned Cocktail!”
That original ‘old fashioned’ cocktail never did fully reappear in its original form. By this time ice had replaced water, and the fruit garnish never went completely away. What evolved as the Old Fashioned Cocktail was mixed drink which sat somewhere in between a Fancy Cocktail and the original Cocktail. A strip of citrus zest replaced the fancy slice of fruit, and as indicated, ice was added instead of water (and in some cases a touch of Orange liqueur was added in place or in conjunction with the sugar).
Today the Old Fashioned Cocktail has become the standard-bearer of mixolgy, and it is widely regarded as the first truly Classic Cocktail.
Today I am mixing an Old Fashioned Cocktail with a special 30 Year Old Single Grain Whisky from independent bottlers, Wilson and Morgan. The point I am making by using such a special whisky is that the Old Fashioned Cocktail in its present form is a libation that is easily elevated by great ingredients. The better the spirit, the better the cocktail; or in this case, the better the Scotch Whisky, the better the Old Fashioned Cocktail.
This is a stunning serving which reaches an entire new level of greatness because of the wonderful whisky which is used in its construction, the 30 Year Old Cameronbridge Single Grain Whisky from Morgan and Wilson.
Scotch Whisky Old Fashioned
1 1/2 oz 30 Year Old Cameronbridge Single Grain Whisky
1/2 tsp Sugar syrup
1 dash Dry Orange Curacao
1 dash bitters (Angostura Orange Bitters)
3 large Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel
Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.
Please Enjoy Responsibly!
If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
Note my review of the fantastic Morgan and Wilson 30 Year Old Cameronbridge Single Grain Whisky publishes tomorrow, Chimo!