By 1900, recipes for the old-fashioned cocktail or old-fashioned whiskey cocktail were common in cocktail manuals. But the drinks’ moment of purity was short-lived. Books began to call for an orchard of fruit: orange, cherry and — dear God — pineapple. These florid garnishes stayed safely perched on the rim of the glass for a long time. But at some point after Prohibition’s repeal they fell into the soup and got mashed into a messy slurry. Dale DeGroff, a veteran barman, remembers building the drink that way in the 1970s. This, say absolutists, was the old-fashioned’s darkest hour.
“It had to be among the most disgusting drinks I encountered when I first tended bar,” the cocktail historian Anistatia Miller said. “Orange, lemon and maraschino cherry muddled with sugar and bitters, then topped with ice, whiskey and soda. That’s how I was taught to make them. And for the life of me, I couldn’t believe anyone would drink them.”
[Sigh] I’m not going to defend Wisconsin’s signature cocktail yet again. Just drink your damn drink.
(And hey! Mad Men is almost back. Which is nice.)