Keep It Classic: The History of ‘The Old Fashioned’

Old-fashioned cocktail in a crystal glass with lemon rind.

Who doesn’t love a good cocktail? Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, the pleasure of enjoying a craft cocktail at a bar or restaurant with friends is either limited or impossible.

As with many COVID-related bummers, people are managing to find a silver lining on this dark cloud in the form of getting creative with making cocktails at home! 

Here at Silver Superstore, we believe everyone’s home should be their sanctuary, fully equipped with everything you need to have a great night in at home. With that being said, we would like to share a little bit about the classic, easy-to-make, whisky-based cocktail, the Old Fashioned.

During these trying times, nothing will help liven your spirits (or dull the pain) better than this classic drink. Keep reading to learn a little about the history of this cocktail and how to make it.

The history of the Old Fashioned

When you think of the Old Fashioned, you probably picture Mad Men and Don Draper. That’s because this adult beverage was largely popularized in the 1960s following the 1963 release of the film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Yet, the drink dates back long, long before the sixties (hence the name). The name was given to the drink when fancy flavored drinks began to gain popularity in the 1880s and 1890s. Those who ordered this drink wanted their alcohol the old-fashioned way, without all the frills and add-ins.

The first iteration of the drink dates back to 1862, when Jerry Thomas (author of Bartenders Guide: How To Mix Drinks) published a recipe for the Old Fashioned Holland Gin Cocktail. Fast-forward to 1880 in Louisville, Kentucky, when James E. Pepper came up with a Bourbon-based version of the drink, and the modern version we all know and love was born.

Since then, and since it’s popularization in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Mad Men, the drink has morphed into a symbol of the classic drink, evoking the image of sophisticated, masculine, and “classic.” Fun fact: it’s also, allegedly, the most Googled cocktail recipe today!

How to make the Old Fashioned cocktail

So, what is the Old Fashioned? It’s a bourbon or rye whisky-based drink often served over ice with an orange peel or cherry garnish. 

To make one serving, you’ll need:

45 ml Bourbon or rye whisky

1 sugar cube or ¼ oz simple syrup

2 or 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

A small splash of water (optional)

Orange peel or cherry for garnish (optional)


Place ingredients in a traditional Old Fashioned glass, like our Lismore 9 oz. Tumbler, fill halfway with ice, and stir until chilled. Express the orange peel over the rim of the glass, then garnish the drink with the orange peel. Enjoy!