The Old Fashioned Made Me a Snob

standard February 18, 2016 Leave a response

It was never my intention to be become a snob, but the Old Fashioned cocktail drove me to it. I admit it, I’m smitten with this classic cocktail and I always look forward to judging how an Old Fashioned recipe is executed. Popular well before Mad Men hit the air, there’s a reason why this is cocktail has stood the test of time.

A Surprising Old Fashioned in Calgary

Truth be told I was planning on pulling a Bobby Fisher disappearing act at a recent downtown birthday party, but the bartender hooked me with an incredible Old Fashioned.

A swanky establishment by anyone’s measure, I arrived to find the party guests dolled up for what they believed was a gala event while my wardrobe leaned towards watching a hockey game. Surely this bar could make an Old Fashioned cocktail, which is a drink that doesn’t require a dress code… Needless to say I would NOT be disappointed.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Blew My Doors Off

I asked the man behind the bar “Can you make an Old Fashioned?” And barely nodding he gave me a look that suggested I was in for a treat. I can’t really explain it, but everything from the bartender’s greeting, to the way the drink is mixed and finally served, an Old Fashioned is an experience.

Not only did the bartender make a sophisticated Old Fashioned, but it was easily the best one I’d ever had. After having a drink of this high-caliber I knew that my night was just beginning and there would be no quick exit.

My Old Bartender

The Old Fashioned Virgin

A friend of mine at the bar had never had an Old Fashioned and I felt that it was my duty to buy him his first. Unfortunately, it was a different bartender that would take on the monumental task of living up to this classic cocktail experience.

Right away, I knew we were in trouble… The rookie bartender wasn’t struggling, but he simply didn’t know how to assemble the Old Fashioned cocktail recipe. Watching the drink’s construction my inner snob cringed while my friend doubted that these missteps would affect the taste. All I could do was shake my head….

As the bartender passed us our drinks it was difficult for me to hide my dissatisfaction. I barely took a sip and I wasn’t trying to be a jerk either, it’s just…I prefer how the other gentleman crafted the drink.

Luckily my original bartender came to the rescue. After making eye contact he quietly discarded our drinks to replace them with a proper Old Fashioned.

What Tickles My Pickle

As cocktail novices it’s sometimes difficult to remember that there’s more than one way to pour a classic drink such as the Old Fashioned but I definitely have my preferred method. Over time we become aficionados in our signature drinks, so let me share with you my secret sauce.

My Quintessential Old Fashioned Cocktail

  • Grab an Old Fashioned glass
  • Drop a single sugar cube into the glass
  • Add a few shakes of bitters, enough to cover the sugar cube.
  • Add a splash of soda water
  • Muddle vigorously
  • Add ice, until the glass is half covered
  • Add 1.5 ounces of bourbon (my personal preference is 4 Roses Bourbon)
  • Stir drink
  • Fill the remainder of the glass with ice
  • Add orange peel for garnish

This my friends is the classic cocktail I enjoy so much. Not that it’s the “right” way to make an Old Fashioned, but it’s my way.

My Old Fashioned Cocktail in Calgary

Experience the Adventure

It’s likely that you’ll find the Old Fashioned cocktail made in a multitude of ways, but the fun of cocktail culture is the adventure. You may know of a place where these cocktails are made with syrup, a single king-ice-cube and served with a straw (total madness), but therein lies the enjoyment. Snobbery is simply preference and to that I plead guilty.

The Old Fashioned is my signature drink and I encourage its addition to your repertoire. Explore it to find your own perfect mixology and you may join me as an accidental cocktail snob.


Proud Canadian, sports fan and accidental cocktail connoisseur, Arvind has been known to tinker with the mixological arts deep in the heart of his basement bar.