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Bewitched, Bothered and Bevampyred

There is no doubt well at least I have none that an Old-Fashioned is improved by the use of aromatic bitters but the question is what bitters. Originally Broker's bitters were used but almost by default, due to their being one of the only aromatic bitters to survive, Angostura Aromatic Bitters are now most commonly used. Thankfully, a huge range of bitters are once again available including reproductions of both Broker's and Abbotts bitters, both of which work well in Old-Fashioneds.

Ice If using a mixing glass to prepare an Old-Fashioned then the drink looks much more appealing and holds its dilution better if strained over a single large chunk of ice. Otherwise I recommend my usual double frozen ice from ice-machine to freezer and freezer to ice well. Conclusion I've experimented with all off the above and find myself reverting back to the method David A. Stirred and stirred directly in the glass with ice gradually added. My favoured Old-Fashioned recipe calls for both bourbon and rye. For the reasons given above I favour sugar syrup over sugar cubes and use a little more sugar than most, but then I also use a dash more of bitters and a glug more whiskey than most so I guess I'm in line with the proportions used by most.

Like many veritable classics, the origins of this cocktail are shrouded in the mists of time. It follows the classic cocktail formula as laid down in spirit, a bit of sugar, a bit of water, and bitters. It is rare among mixed drinks in that, over the following two centuries, it never completely faded from view. However, the drink did go through a roller-coaster's worth of twists and turns.

For the first several decades of its life, the drink went by the name of simply Whiskey Cocktail. During this period, it was served 'up' and without ice, and was considered a 'matutinal' cocktail-that is, it was commonly drunk in the morning as an eye-opener. By the 's, it picked up in popularity as a favored drink among the well-heeled young 'dudes' of the time.

Beginning in the 's, bartenders, bewitched by the new liqueurs available to them, began making "Improved" Whiskey Cocktails, spiked with dashes of absinthe, curacao, maraschino liqueur, Chartreuse and other potions. This led to a revolt among old-school imbibers, who began to call out for "Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktails"- that is, the standard formula of whiskey, bitters, sugar, water. Thus, the name by which we now know the drink came into being.

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Various people and bars have, over the years, claimed to have invented the Old-Fashioned, the most noted and persistent boast coming from Louisville's private Pendennis Club, which was founded in [see below]. All have been debunked.

The Pendennis Club

As the Old-Fashioned began life as a "cocktail" in its most elemental form, any meaningful authorship of the drink will likely never be established. It was now served in the glass in which it was prepared a short, heavy-bottomed glass which came to be known as an Old-Fashioned glass ; was made with lump sugar, not syrup, which was pulverized into syrup by the use of a muddler now an all-important tool in the creation of the cocktail ; and was served on the rocks.

It was now enjoyed as a sipping drink, not the knock-back it was of old. It kept to this form in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and was wildly popular. Following the repeal of Prohibition in , the Old-Fashioned again underwent an alteration. The cocktail was now commonly made with fruit, typically an orange slice and maraschino cherry, though pineapple was also often drafted into use.


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Sometimes, the fruit was muddled at the bottom of the glass. Again, the causes of this change are obscure. A creditable theory posits that fruit was added during Prohibition to disguise the taste of the poor liquor being used. One thing is for certain: every one of the flood of cocktail books that came out in the s featured recipes for the Old-Fashioned that called for fruit.

Bartenders, newly returned to service after 13 years of inactivity, duly followed the formula. The drink enjoyed another burst of popularity in the decades following Repeal, particularly among women, who were now accustomed to drinking in public.


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  • However, by the s, with the rise of vodka and disco drinks, the Old-Fashioned began to fall into eclipse. By the end of the 20th century, it was a drink mainly associated with older people. A few geographical pockets kept the drink's name alive.

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    It never fell from its pedestal in the United States' Midwest. However, in that area particularly in the state of Wisconsin , it was prepared in its own sui generis way, with muddled fruit, domestic brandy and curious garnishes such as pickled mushrooms. In the UK, which never adopted the American fruited version of the cocktail, it was also never forgotten.

    However, bartenders favored an unusual 'stirred-down' version of the drink, in which the whiskey and ice were added gradually, and preparation could last as long as five minutes. This method has been traced back to Dick Bradsell, who credits his early mentor Ray Cooke with instructing him to make it that way. The Old-Fashioned returned to its 's form during the first decade of this century, when cocktail historians and bartenders uncovered old cocktail manuals and the recipes they contained.

    The best cocktail bars began serving the drink, sans-fruit, and the Old-Fashioned once again entered an era of wide popularity, among young and old drinkers alike.

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    Literally hundreds of new variations on the Old-Fashioned formula also began to crop up. James E. Pepper, of Kentucky, a proprietor of a celebrated whiskey of the period. It was said to have been the invention of a bartender at the famous Pendennis Club in Louisville, of which Col. Need we remind you that this type of thing is for your pleasure — not for that of the children. More secrets and goodies of an occult nature await your presence in the House of Spirits.

    The story of the Old-Fashioned

    Various two-hour sessions are available per evening for folks who sign up to venture into the haunted mansion of a secret location. As you roam, you will have six miniature flights of cocktails, each themed after a different room of the house. Not enough for you? Hopefully, one of the above sources for Halloween treats, drinks, and hi-jinks will satiate your needs until the next time the beast must feed.

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