Toast: The Bourbon Old Fashion Cocktail

Bourbon Old Fashioned Cocktail, Jay's Seafood in Dayton, OH; Photo: Eric Colleary

Way before there was Sex on the Beach and Fuzzy Navels, there was the Old Fashion. Legend credits the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky for originating the drink in the 1880s, and die-hard cocktail makers will insist it be made as it first was – with bourbon. The sweet drink has a hint of citrus (usually a lemon or orange), and the bitters give it a bit of spice. Depending on how its made, the Old Fashion can pack a surprising whallop, with the sweetness masking the amount of alcohol being consumed.

The Old Fashion became popular across the country after it appeared on the bar menu of the Old Waldorf Astoria in New York. While it can’t be credited for certain, the bartender at the Pendennis Club at the time of its invention was Thomas Bullock, who worked there for over twenty years before becoming the head bartender at the St. Louis Country Club. Unfortunately, not much else is known about Bullock except that he published one of America’s earliest book of bartending recipes; The Ideal Bartender (1917). While this famed book purports to include the authentic recipe for the Kentucky Mint Julep passed down directly to Bullock from the man who invented it, this Bourbon Old Fashion Cocktail recipe from Bullock’s book could be the original:

The Recipe