The old fashioned may be the world’s first cocktail. The earliest print reference occurs in 1806 in a magazine published in Hudson, New York, called by its original name of Bittered Sling. This “cock tail” was probably made from rye whiskey (virtually the only kind available at the time); it also contained bitters, sugar, and water. Later, a twist of citrus peel became common. By 1833 the concoction was pandemic in New York City bars. But by then the liquor of choice could also be brandy, rum, or even gin — sometimes grated nutmeg was added as a flavoring. New York City’s premiere bartender, Jerry Thomas, published his recipe — calling it Whiskey Cocktail — in 1862, using Boker’s bitters and a sugar solution thickened with gum arabic, very science-cheffy. He added a twist of lemon peel after straining the drink into a wine glass. No ice!
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