Friday drinks: old fashioned

Welcome. It’s Friday drinks. This week we have Don Draper’s preferred cocktail, the old fashioned.

The old fashioned mixed by director Jeff Stewart. Photo by Jeff Stewart.

The now classic iconography of “Mad Men” shows Don Draper enjoying the two constants in his life: cigarettes and an old fashioned. With the premiere of the stellar show, Matt Weiner ushered in yet another era of the bourbon whiskey drink.

John Slattery as Roger Sterling and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “Mad Men.”
Photo by Frank W. Ockenfels and courtesy of AMC network.

The old fashioned has come in and out of fashion over the past 120 years. The cocktail can be traced back to the 1880s and the Pendennis Club of Louisville, Kentucky. The pre-prohibition old fashioned is said to have been made with a lump of sugar, Angostura bitters, a piece of ice, and bourbon whiskey. As you may know, prohibition changed the way bourbon whiskey was produced in America. After prohibition ended, the changes in bourbon whisky and the ex-speakeasy bartenders’ lack of attention to the authentic old fashioned recipe caused much consternation with cocktail connoisseurs.

With that in mind, director and mixologist Jeff Stewart prepared an approximation of the original version of the drink. His nods to a more modern old fashioned: an orange instead of lemon and the addition of orange bitters.

220:365 - muddler

A drink muddler. Photo courtesy of cavale.

The first thing I noticed with Jeff’s mix was the vivid orange scent. The aroma truly invited me to the drink. To get it, Jeff muddled a slice of orange directly in the rocks/whiskey glass. To muddle, you need a muddler, which is a pestle often shaped like a small baseball bat. For the old fashioned, Jeff muddled the flesh of an orange into the peel releasing the flavor and scent. The fresh orange along with the Regan’s orange bitters, Jeff’s preferred brand, yields the lovely orange fragrance.

After the bouquet, old fashioned is a bourbon whiskey drink through and through. Pouring a decent bourbon whiskey is well-advised for the full bourbon taste. Jeff recommends Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve.

Wanna try Jeff’s recipe? Here it is.
2 oz. bourbon
1 slice of orange
1 cube of sugar
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 dashes of orange bitters

Take a rocks/whiskey glass. Add the Angostura and orange bitters to the glass followed by the sugar. Muddle your slice of orange in the glass, being careful to muddle the orange flesh directly into the rind. Stir the orange juice, sugar, and bitters gently to mix. Add bourbon. Stir for 5 seconds vigorously. Add a few cubes of ice and it’s ready to drink.

Jeff says you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon white granulated cane sugar; however, lump sugar honors the original old fashioned recipe.

Keep your glass half-full. Drink responsibly.



Categories: Director, Drinks

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2 replies

  1. Had the privilege of enjoying one of these by our very own Jeff Stewart myself on Saturday…it’s fast becoming a staple of my bar-ordering short list.

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