According to Jamion Williams of Repeal & Serve, understanding the history of the cocktail is central to the experience. In fact, he credits this narrative as the fulcrum of what he does at Repeal & Serve, his mixology consultancy business.
“Everybody thinks that the Old Fashioned has whiskey, orange, and cherry muddled together with ice and some sort of sweetener,” says Williams. “Then Jerry Thomas came around and kind of upended everything. Cocktail culture started as we know it today. When that happened, people looked at the whiskey-bitters-sugar thing and said, ‘Man, I wish I could just have it the old fashioned way, I don’t want this new stuff.’ It’s literally the oldest cocktail because it was before cocktail times. There was no orange, no cherry, none of that. The only thing is whiskey, sugar, bitters. But that’s not a very interesting drink if I just have that at a bar.”