Photo by Romulo Yanes
This drink was featured as a Cocktail of the Month. Click here to learn more about the Old Fashioned.
The invention of the drink is frequently (and probably inaccurately) credited to a bartender at the Pendennis Club, in Louisville, Kentucky, who around the turn of the 20th century reportedly made the drink for Colonel James E. Pepper, a member of the club and by some accounts a prominent bourbon distiller.
There’s a strikingly similar cocktail in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant’s Companion, called the “Whiskey Cocktail.” What probably happened at Pendennis, says Robert Hess, founder of drinkboy.com and cofounder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, was that the bartender served a Whiskey Cocktail made the old-fashioned way — that is, the spirit combined with sugar, bitters, and water, the way cocktails were made as early as 1806.
Editor’s note: Swap gin for whiskey in the recipe below, and you’ll have an excellent Gin Old Fashioned.