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The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore Hardcover – May 13, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"Robert Simonson is such an engaging author that he makes this the perfect book to accompany an easy chair and a well-made Old-Fashioned cocktail . . . An incisive, impeccably researched story of this too often forgotten classic cocktail, resulting in some good rollicking stories that American history is rich in."
John MarianiHuffington Post

"[...] you won’t be engrossed in his book just because of all the mythology surrounding this storied drink. It’s filled with gorgeous photos of the Old-Fashioned in its eponymous glass and with recipes (which comprise a good half of the book) both traditional and modern, swapping out the whiskey for pretty much every other spirit available."
Ariana Auber, Austin American Statesman

"Simonson takes us on a witty and engaging tour through the drink’s long history and ends with recipes for traditional mixes and experimental twists. Like a good old-fashioned, his writing is dry but sweet; it’s got a kick, but is also low-key and best savored slowly."
 David Cote, Time Out New York

"If you like a little lore with your whiskey, then this book is for you. It covers the story of how this one drink has survived from the early 19th century, through Prohibition, and now back again to being one of our favorites. [...] Alone or with a bottle of rye, this makes for the perfect holiday gift for the drink lover on your list."
 Maureen Petrosky, The Kitchn

About the Author

ROBERT SIMONSON, journalist and author, is one of the leading authorities on spirits and cocktail culture in the United States. Called “our man in the liquor-soaked trenches” by the New York Times, he has written extensively about cocktails, spirits, bars, and bartenders for the Times, as well as GQ, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Imbibe, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, and Time Out New York. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607745356
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607745358
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write about cocktails, spirits, bars and bartenders, both past and present. I work primarily for the New York Times, but have also been published in Imbibe, Saveur, Lucky Peach, Wine Spectator, Whiskey Advocate, Edible (Manhattan, Brooklyn & East End), New York magazine, Punch and Eater.

Prior to my career as a liquor journalist, I wrote extensively about theatre for many years, for the New York Times, Variety, Time Out New York, The Village Voice and others. I was the editor of from 1998 to 2006. Playbill remains the sole outlet where I still write about theatre. I like to say that a career of theatregoing drove me to a second career in drinking.

I wrote four books about the theatre before publishing my first cocktail book, "The Old-Fashioned: The World's First Classic Cocktail," in May 2014 (Ten Speed Press). My next book will be "The Modern Classics," a cultural history of the modern cocktail renaissance. I am also a contributor to "The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails," released in October 2015.

A native of Wisconsin, I have lived in New York for more than 25 years--most of those years in brownstone Brooklyn--with my son. My apartment is filled with bottles, and their number grow every day.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By I Do The Speed Limit TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
And the Old-Fashioned surely won't go out of fashion.

For the longest time we drank vodka. Year before last, coming up on the Holiday season, we were searching for a mutual, share-able present for each other--just a token for holiday spirit. We settled on a very expensive bottle of bourbon. Later, we sat in front of the fireplace, snuggled up and sipping; patting ourselves on the back for our wonderful, eye-opening "brown liquor" experience.

After a dozen or so sipping "experiences" with whiskeys and bourbons, we decided to branch out a bit. Oh, we won't ever give up trying new sipping bourbons and whiskeys, but we decided to expand into mixed drinks. Variations on the Old-Fashioned and the Manhattan became our pursuit.

How could we not like this book? It is jam-packed with information, tips, recipes, reminiscence. It is a book to be savored, along with the booze.

I was amazed to see how many recipes and variations were included. Plus the variety of liquors: Chartreuse, Cherry Heering, Eldeflower liqueur, Grand Marnier, to name just a few. There was even a discussion on pear bitters. (I have been experimenting with different bitters lately.)

This would make a beautiful gift, too. Maybe a possible Father's Day present?

*I received a temporary download of this book from the publisher. But this is a book to slowly work through, and a book to refer back to, so we will be purchasing our own copy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Clay Risen on May 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Does a single cocktail deserve an entire book? It does if it's the Old-Fashioned. Journalist Robert Simonson deftly makes the case for why it's not just the oldest of the classic cocktails, but the most important, the ur-drink that cleared the path for everything to come after.

Even still, in less artful hands, a book on a narrow topic like this could easily become repetitive, obsessive, and boring. But Simonson, who writes for a variety of outlets including the New York Times, tells his story well, placing the evolution of the Old-Fashioned within the context of Gilded Age New York, with stopovers in New Orleans, Chicago, and Havana. The second half of the book counts 40 recipes, from classic versions to modern variants, all told with such verve that you'll want to read each one, even if you never touch a jigger.

And while you should never judge a book by its cover, it's worth noting how beautiful this book is designed. It's a compact, jacketless hardcover with the cover art printed directly onto the boards. The endpaper is retro marbled. Throughout the book are beautiful full-color, often full-page photos by Daniel Krieger. The text is printed in an army of fonts, too many for my tastes, but nothing too distracting.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anderson on July 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Old-Fashioned is a wonderfully crafted book just as its namesake, for it generates a love for this classic cocktail. The book is not simply an enjoyable and informative read but a visual pleasure which makes reading it that much better. After reading the history of this drink through its ups and downs, I was reminded how the Lord has given the good gift of alcohol to make the heart glad. This book is a demonstration of the art, skill, and joy that can be had in enjoying a drink. I have yet to try any of the recipes provided, however, I am sure I will especially since one of them calls for bacon fat-infused bourbon. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to acquire a love for a truly classic cocktail. Read it and enjoy it and then drink an Old-Fashioned in honor of it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matt on September 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've had a few Old-Fashioneds in my time, but I'm not nearly as much of an expert as I'd like to be. Plus, I figured it's high time I learned to make this delicious drink in my own home rather than paying the price at bars!

This book is a delightful exploration of the drink! It's small and compact - perfect for that bar or kitchen counter - and filled with lots of lovely pictures of delicious looking drinks. I really appreciated that the author, Robert Simonson, included a fairly extensive history of the drink before he gets into the recipe section. It was fascinating to learn all about the historical movements and preferences that have shaped the way we enjoy the Old Fashioned today.

When we do finally get to the recipes, they are helpfully divided up into three sections: Old School, Standard Variations, and Modern Classics. Again, I loved the way the book incorporated history and culture into its recipes! The Old School recipes are sources from historical documents, like newspapers from the 1860s, and the Modern Classics are sourced back to the restaurants they originated from! One thing I really love about this book is that it is accessible to all levels of drink makers. It has enough instructions and recipes so that beginners like myself can easily try out some of the easier recipes, but also contains enough nuanced drinks that more practiced bartenders will find something to their liking.

I tried out a couple of the drinks, Col. Jim's Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail and the AppleJack Old Fashioned, and really enjoyed them both! I am looking forward to trying more recipes from this marvelous books!

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me by Blogging for Books for review*
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