Fightin’ Words!

No, I’m not actually prepared to throw down over mixology. But I do feel compelled to defend my state’s signature cocktail. From the New York Times:

What does it take to get a decent old-fashioned in this town?

After asking himself that question too many times, the cocktail autodidact Martin Doudoroff decided to do something about it. The result is Old Fashioned 101, a bare bones Web site in which he spells out in painstaking detail how to build what many historians and mixologists regard as the grandaddy of American mixed drinks.

A noble pursuit, I imagine. But what’s this?

Just so we’re perfectly clear:

There is no slice of orange in an Old Fashioned.

There is no cherry in an Old Fashioned.

You do not mash up fruit of any kind in an Old Fashioned.

There is no seltzer, soda water, ginger ale, or lemon soda in an Old Fashioned.

By god, them’s fighting words! It’s never a bad thing to reflect upon first principles, but there’s also no need to be pedantic. Let’s look back at another view from a few years back, also from the New York Times:

Growing up in Wisconsin, I had an ingrained awareness — and disgust — of the state’s insular signature drink, the brandy old-fashioned. It was what people drank before and after football games or ice fishing. I considered it insipidly sweet and townie lowbrow, and I left before I was enough of a drinker to be proven otherwise…

But considering it a simpleton’s drink was my mistake. It’s more a family of drinks, revolving around a central theme. There are four main ways to order it: sweet, with 7 Up; sour (which is not), with sour mix or Squirt; “press” with half 7 Up and half seltzer; or seltzer only. There are regional garnish customizations using pickled vegetables — including mushrooms, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, brussels sprouts and olives — that seem counterintuitive until you taste the salty, vinegar tang playing off of the spice of the bitters and the sweet thrum of the brandy. By God, our great-grandparents were on to something.

Damn right. Let’s not dispense of a rich, fruity tradition so casually.  

 Photo from Wikipedia.