As with many of the classic cocktails, the Old-Fashioned has a somewhat murky history. Most cocktail researchers seem to agree that it was first seen in print in the Hudson, New York newspaper Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806. It was defined in this publication as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” It was made with bourbon, and had to contain the other three ingredients. At this time it was referred to as the Whiskey Cocktail, and although it seemed quite simple, it became a favorite of American drinkers everywhere, and was even given to Civil War soldiers as part of their provisions kit. By the mid to late 1800’s, bartenders grew bored with the simplicity of the Old-Fashioned, and began to look for ways to make it more exciting. That translated into the base spirit being changed, additional spirits being added in, or lots of fruit being muddled into the drink. This upset the cocktail purists of the time, much as it still does, and they took to demanding an old-fashioned sort of drink. Hence the name was born.
I too respect the simplicity and straight-forwardness of the Old-Fashioned cocktail. When making them, I’ve seldom ventured outside the box. Inspired by all the creativity behind the this weekend’s Cocktail Redux event on Instagram, I decide to have a whirl at making a new-fashioned Old-Fashioned with some fruit muddled in. Cocktail purists please forgive me. I just want to have a little fun. I kept bourbon as my base, but I infused it for 12 hours with rosemary. I switched up my sweetener to maple syrup because I love how well it works with both the bourbon and the rosemary. I muddled in raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries and added 2 dashes of DRAM Apothecary’s black bitters to tie all the flavors together. The end result was very different from a traditional Old-Fashioned, yet it had a charm all its own, even though some people might argue that it’s trying much to hard to be liked. And something about it worked for me as we begin moving full swing into the summer season…
This Summer’s Fashion
Gently muddle the berries and the maple syrup in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass. Add the whiskey, bitters, and one large ice cube. Stir until cold. Garnish with fresh berries. Enjoy!