An Old Fashioned guy

Classic cocktails have, to some extent, taken a backseat to fad concoctions in the past decade or so. Luckily for those who like variety, some are rebounding -- for example, the Bourbon Manhattan, the Sidecar, the Gimlet and the Rusty Nail.

I was enjoying a comforting Belvedere vodka martini (thereby betraying the classic martini recipe) at a favorite restaurant the other evening when Tommy Doyle -- 43 years and counting as a bartender par excellence -- picked up his muddler and began working up a cocktail that looked vaguely familiar.

Although he was making it in a sturdy wine goblet instead of the standard Old Fashioned tumbler, it was indeed an Old Fashioned, the stalwart drink of the 1930s that gave the glass its name.

The Old Fashioned was a regional Bourbon cocktail created in the 1880s by a bartender at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen's club in Louisville, Ky. Club member Col. James E. Pepper, whose Kentucky family distillery today is known as Woodford Reserve, is said to have introduced the drink to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York. It became so popular it appeared in the ''Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book'' in 1931.

Like many drinks, the Old Fashioned can have a few variables -- Doyle's customer preferred Scotch to rye -- but the classic
recipe goes like this:

2 oz. blended whiskey
1 sugar cube
1 dash bitters
1 slice lemon
1 slice orange
1 maraschino cherry

Combine the sugar cube, bitters, and a teaspoon of water in a cocktail tumbler. Muddle well, add whiskey, and stir (or shake vigorously if preferred). Add a twist of lemon peel and ice cubes. Add slices of orange and lemon and top with the cherry. Serve with a swizzle stick.

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