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The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A complete history of one of the world's most iconic cocktails--now the poster child of the modern cocktail revival--with fifty recipes for classic variations as well as contemporary updates.

No single cocktail is as iconic, as beloved, or as discussed and fought-over as the Old-Fashioned. Its formula is simple: just whiskey, bitters, sugar, and ice. But how you combine
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Ten Speed Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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Amy Casey
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a neat little book about the history of the old-fashioned, which--as you'll find if you read it--is far more contentious than one might assume! Small vignettes about notorious bartenders, responses to Prohibition, and the various reputations surrounding various versions of the drink reflect Simonson's copious research as well as his knack for retelling it. My favorite aspect of the book, being a lifelong Wisconsinite myself, was the appearance of our state in the story of this ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: tipplers of good simple cocktails
Well! Thanks to Mr. Simonson I certainly know more about the Old-Fashioned than I ever did before!

And probably too much to make my friends happy. "Did you know that in 1833" I can sense them already tensing up whenever I have a cocktail in hand. ;0)

But what a load of facts there are about the simple and humble predecessor to all cocktails. So much to know about a simple mixture of spirit-sweetener-bitter. I could barely put this book down, truth to tell. I've wanted to be an Old-Fashioned
Benjamin Chandler
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
A classy little book about my favorite cocktail, half history, half recipes.

Admittedly, being a native Wisconsinite*, I lean towards the Brandy Old-Fashioned (sour, preferably), but the recipes provided from some of today's neo-cocktail artists tempt me to try some new twists. The photos are lovely, and the author clearly has a passion for the drink. He goes through the history without getting dull or too pedantic, though he seems to be a bit puritanical when it comes to putting fruit in the
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Compared to most of my friends, I am nowhere near being a mixologist. I openly admit I only started drinking this cocktail because it was the drink of choice for Mad Mens leading man Don Draper. Thankfully, The Old Fashioned acknowledges Im not alone.

The Old Fashioned book has two ingredients: It starts with the lore and ends with the recipes. Simonson, whom is probably the foremost expert in The Old Fashioned and therefore has the coolest job in America, journalistically traces down the history
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Half the book is the history of the drink - the other half is recipes for the drink. Lots of (nice) photos. Good section on the drink's ties to Chicago (and that it used to be a pre-breakfast "start-'er-upper" drink!), the WI brandy version.
The recipes get weirder and weirder as they go along - by the end all they have in common with the classic Old-Fashioned is bitters and a large piece of ice.
Quick, informative, interesting read.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: libations
A fun little book with a relatively engaging writing style, nicely complementary photos, and interesting recipes. The history bit was fun to read and went into more depth than Wondrich's Imbibe, which covered a much larger topic than this one drink. I'm on the fence on whether I'd want to keep a permanent copy around. (I borrowed this one.)
Mr. Smidl
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would really rate this around 3.5 but it stems from the poor editing job and a lot of the recipes I will never utilize. I am definitely a part of the school that enjoys a classic Old-Fashioned that does not incorporate a lot of fruit. If you read this book, youll understand a lot of the little nuisances. The story is interesting and wish there was more to it. ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very informative, handsome book. It gives a well-researched history of the Old-Fashioned with cultural context and then provides recipes from across time and the world.
It tackles the all important issue of fruit and does so in the best way possible. The recipes all have explanations and offer substitutions to ingredients that may be difficult to find.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing

When it comes to Irish Whisky I prefer Powers or Paddy to the overly marketed Jameson. When it comes to Rye hands down the only option is Bulleit ryeat least in the states. There are a whole myriad of reasons I prefer Whisky to Rye in a public forum, ranging from cost, to the blatant abuse of the Old-Fashioned by young, 20-something-scholarship-toddler-bartenders, to availability; though powers is really difficult to find in Boston bars. Because my tightly held opinion over the
Dennis Castro
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Beautiful photos and layout. The first half of the book is a relatively brief, but interesting, informative, and nicely written history of the Old-fashioned cocktail. The second half is a wealth of drink recipes from famous bars and bartenders, that appear to ones I will certainly test out. The ironic part is that most of these recipes are not Old-Fashioned drinks, but rather Improved Cocktails. As the book itself points out in the first half, the "improved cocktails" were a result ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My favourite cocktail is an old-fashioned so when I saw this book, I had to read it. It proved to be an excellent read! It starts off with a history of the cocktail, from its creation to its growth in popularity. I found this very interesting as I didn't know much about the origins of the drink. After the history, Simonson discusses how the drink is viewed in modern culture and provides some very delicious looking recipes, offering a new twist on the drink, created by American bartenders. This ...more
Christopher Zulueta
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Amazing melange of old-fashioned's modern to the whiskey cocktail with recipes from respectable industry folk. The history and debunked folklore from the many whom claimed ownership of the old-fashioned into the late 1800's sparks interest in the one drink, which cannot be claimed due to its simplicity, and yet, ever-changing recipe well into the Don Draper years. A great tome that isn't too in depth... as it should be... for the drink in itself was an ostentatious fruit-salad that is now being ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
A visceral history of the old fashioned, with plenty of back stories and recipes to tempt the tastebuds.
Keegan Fink
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Some good recipes at the end, although as with any modern bar book, the list of cocktails quickly disintegrates into a complex bevy of overly complicated home-brew bitters, labor intensive syrups, and hard-to-obtain liqueurs which are sure to confuse, frustrate, and confound any home mixologist eager to throw back a few easy cocktails. The "history" overall was a little more brief than I'd like, but the overall package is sound, and I read the whole book in mostly one sitting (spread out over ...more
Chelsea Pierce
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Robert Simonson provides the reader with an accessible intro to the Old Fashioned cocktail. He researches various inventors and innovators, and describes a short history of the drink. The second half of the book is dedicated to the classic and modern variations on the recipe. It simply requires whiskey, dashes of bitters, a citrus garnish, and sometimes a syrup. It even includes experiments with rum, gin, and tequila.
Jason McKinney
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it
At first I thought this was a glorified pamphlet because the book proper is less than half the length and the rest is taken up by recipes. Upon closer examination, I discovered that those recipes tell a story of their own. They run the gamut from the very first Old Fashioned to some that the author himself created. This is a fun and interesting read that is also incredibly quick.
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
A solid book on a subject near and dear to my heart (and my liver). The histories are interesting, and the recipes, variations, anecdotes, and weird drinks people somehow manage to still label as an "Old Fashioned" are a nice bonus.
Lukas Evan
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: drinking
Whiskey (preferably rye), water, sugar, bitters, a big ice cube, and maybe a twist of lemon or orange. Anything else is barbaric.
M.j. Radosevich
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Delightful historical perspective coupled with a breadth of recipes for stirring up an Old Fashioned. The photography is inviting , one almost feels the warmth of the whiskey.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Well now I'm thirsty.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: foodie-related
a book all about my favorite cocktail. yeah!
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you are interested in Cocktail Lore, combined with cocktail variations in a well-written, attractive package, I don't see how you could do better than this book Exactly what I wanted.
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