Old Fashioned

Likely the first North American cocktail, with the first reference appearing in 1806—this may be one of the oldest of all American drinks, or at least the first for which there is a record. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President who presided over the end of Prohibition, favored this drink along with his famous Dirty Martini. According Oscar Getz in his book Whiskey: an American Pictorial History, this was FDR's preferred formula:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Club soda
  • 2 ounces rye whisky
  • Slice of orange
  • Twist of lemon peel
  • Piece of pineapple

Preparation: Muddle a lump of sugar, a dash of Angostura bitters, and a splash of club soda in an Old Fashioned glass. Add an ice cube, a slice of orange, a twist of lemon peel, a piece of pineapple, and about two ounces of whiskey. Top it off with a splash of club soda.

Cultural context The Old Fashioned was also the drink preferred by President Harry Truman. He and First Lady Bess each enjoyed one before dinner during their White House years. Truman did not add fruit to his Old Fashioneds, following the advice of Crosby Gaige who wrote in his 1941 Cocktail Guide, “Serious-minded persons omit fruit salad from Old Fashioneds while the frivolous window-dress the brew with slices of orange, sticks of pineapple, and a couple of turnips.” The Old Fashioned, which went out of style in the last quarter of the twentieth century, has been given a reprieve as the drink of choice for the character Don Draper on the Mad Men cable television series.