Boston’s Best Old Fashioned

“…Nowadays the modern or ex-speakeasy bartender drops a spoonful of powdered sugar into a glass, adds a squirt of carbonic to aid dissolution, adds to that a dash or two of some kind of alleged bitters and a lump of ice, regardless of size. Then he proceeds to build up a fruit compote of orange, lemon, pineapple and cherry, and himself pours in a carefully measured ounce and a half of bar whisky, usually a blend, and gives one a glass rod to stir it with. Price, 35 to 50 cents. Profanation and extortion.”
New York Times, Letter to the Editor, Signed “Old Timer”, 1936

The first use of the name “Old Fashioned” for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail was said to have been at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Known as the “manliest drink in the world,” the Old-Fashion was officially given its name in the 1881 by a bartender ( at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.

One of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury’s highly influential book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks”, first published in 1948. Embury frequently stressed that the drink will only ever be as good as the quality of the cheapest ingredient in it, and hence he stresses constantly the need for the highest quality ingredients.

Traditionally made by muddling sugar with bitters, alcohol is then added (originally whiskey but now sometimes brandy) and finally a twist of citrus rind, and is traditionally served in a short, round, tumbler-like glass (called an Old Fashioned glass, named after the drink).

At Trattorial il Panino, we pay respect to an old classic with the perfect balance of alcohol and sweetness – Michter’s, agave, bitters, muddled orange, Luxardo cherries and soda. If you are ever around Boston’s North End, you need to experience this Kentucky-classic.