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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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—John Mariani, Huffington 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
More About the Author
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 Playbill.com 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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
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*
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great stories in this book! I got it for my husband, and I have officially stolen it. The humor this book is written with surprised me and makes it a delightful read.Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
My husband's favorite drink is the Old Fashioned. He love love loves the book and the previous reviewers are correct, the pictures are beautiful. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Maria Oliverio
MY REVIEW: 5 stars! This is a fun and interesting read. The history of the drink was great to read, and of course the recipes are nice. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kristi
I get it, it's in the name, "Old Fashioned." But Simonson is such a purist that he basically alienates a good portion of his modern audience by [hypocritically] declaring... Read morePublished 2 months ago by MandiGutterRose
I really enjoyed this book. I'm a whiskey/bourbon fan, so it was wonderful to find some recipes to try out while learning about the history of the drink itself. Read morePublished 2 months ago by sunnigurl1230