Introducing the Old Fashioned

23 July 2015

It is 9pm and I am in 7 Grand in Los Angeles, a bar well known for not only its great whisk(e)y selection but also its well crafted cocktails. I order a Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Fashioned from Pedro Shanahan, who is the head of the extensive whisky program there and also someone I have come to know very well over the past five years from living in California. Pedro does not bat an eyelid at my order; some may do so when ordering a 15 Year Old scotch whisky in a cocktail, but Pedro gets to it straight away. He takes his time and puts in a lot of effort to create this fabulous drink, which tastes fantastic as always. Back in my bartending days I always told my guests that a lot of love went into making this drink, and to make it right this is definitely the case.

The Old Fashioned is one of the most historic cocktails ever created, so famous that it has a glass named in its honour. To trace its history we have to go back to 1881 and to The Pendennis Club, a private club in Louisville, Kentucky. It is here that the recipe is said to have been created by bartender Martin Cuneo in honour of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who then brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City. I have been to the Pendennis Club to drink an Old Fashioned and to be honest I was very surprised with what I got. The reason being there is both a new and old version of the recipe.  The Pendennis Club obviously opts for the latter that involves muddling a cherry, lemon twist and orange slice along with sugar syrup and Angostura bitters, followed by bourbon and ice. This was a totally different drink compared to the modern version my palate was used to, which is made in the following way:

Ingredients

 - 1 teaspoon simple syrup

 - A dash of Angostura Bitters

 - 2 oz bourbon whiskey or Glenfiddich 15 year old

Method

 - Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass over ice and stir well

 - Strain over large cube of ice into an old fashioned glass

 - Zest the oils of two large pieces of orange peel into glass

 - Add 1 peel to glass as a garnish


Back at 7 Grand I sit and sip on my Glenfiddich Old Fashioned and think that no matter how it is made, it has always been my desert island cocktail. However you like it, enjoy it, as it is a true classic.

Mitch Bechard
Glenfiddich Ambassador USA