I recently became a founding member of the newly-formed Cocktail Hall of Fame Institute for Cocktail Excellence Society. The Cocktail Hall of Fame Institute for Cocktail Excellence is a new entity, which has only just started to get up and running. Members of the Society include prominent bartenders and cocktailians and it is steered by a panel of experts that includes Dave Wondrich, Gaz Regan, Dale DeGroff, Jamie Boudreau and Ryan Magarian. The Institute for Cocktail Excellence President & founder is Steve Bohler.
We recently held our first round of voting on the inaugural induction to the Institute for Cocktail Excellence Hall of Fame. Prior to that, each member of the ICE Society submitted their nominations to the Hall. Let’s just say that the first round of voting included the drinks that you’d expect, but there was one clear winner: the Old Fashioned.
The Old Fashioned’s entry in the Institute for Cocktail Excellence is now live and definitely worth a read, as it includes the preferred formulations for the drink by each of the ICE’s expert judges. It’s interesting to see each of these masters’ own take on such a classic.
Personally, I have always enjoyed the immense variety of ways you can make an Old Fashioned, varying every aspect of the drink: base spirit, sweetener, bitters, garnish, and even how dilute the sweetener is. That said, it’s impossible to have a post on the Old Fashioned and not harken back to original usage of the word “cocktail” in print and definition of the Old Fashioned cocktail in The Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806:
As I make it a point, never to publish anything (under my editorial head) but which I can explain, I shall not hesitate to gratify the curiosity of my inquisitive correspondent: Cock tail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.
Any spirit. Sugar. Water. Bitters. Have at it, Old Fashioned drinkers!
The organization I was referring to as the Cocktail Hall of Fame has undergone a name change and is now the Institute for Cocktail Excellence (ICE).