Review: The Old-Fashioned by Robert Simonson

9781607745358I like alcohol. This should come as no surprise to anyone who follows me on Twitter (and if you don’t, you should).  I owe much of this to my alma mater, who deprives her students of access to alcoholic beverages in the name of Jesus (notthatI’mbitteroranythingOHSHUTUP!). Not long after graduation, I set on a course of craft beer sampling and enjoying that left my mind quite altered (temporarily and permanently).  However, I never dabbled much into mixed drinks or hard liquor.  Most of the bars around Harrisburg (with maybe two or three notable exceptions) here aren’t exactly going to be making great cocktails; most of them are overloaded with cheap ice and next to no liquor and costs about $7 a pop.  Screw that.

However, upon my personal discovery of the awesome AMC show Mad Men, I decided to take it upon myself to try out an old-fashioned. First one came from the super awesome bartender at Appalachian Brewing Company named Tom.   He worked hard to make a quality cocktail while sticking to the traditional recipe (not that I knew this at the time), and the result was wonderful.

Then I got my tab, and, despite enjoying a tasty drink, decided to refrain, given my limited budget.

This has not diminished my enjoyment of an old-fashioned from time to time, though I knew little about the history/recipe of the cocktail prior to receiving Robert Simonson’s book The Old-Fashioned. I’m always one for a little history, so I happily cracked it open and settled in for what turned out to be a fascinating history of not just the drink, but also commentary on drinking practices coming up into the 21st century.  I was surprised as well to find a whole MESS of recipes in the second half of the book, all of them takes on the old-fashioned, old AND new. The only downside to these recipes is that they’re usually made up of some pretty expensive whiskeys (for quality, I assume), and I’m, well, broke (damn student loans).

Simonson’s style of writing is pretty great too.  It’s easy to read, not pompous or elitist (though he is that way for his old-fashioneds, and I”m totally OK with that).  It’s kind of like sitting down for drinks with a history teacher who actually has interest in the cool parts of history.  He can also tell you about the essentials of home bar tending and cocktail mixing in a way that makes you actually want to do it.

Overall, good stuff if you’re into drinking.  If I ever get to the point of having my own bar in my home, this’ll be right next to whatever recipe books I get.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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