What's The Best Type Of Glass For An Old Fashioned?

There is no cocktail quite as classic as a good old fashioned. This time-honored concoction is a recipe that dates back several centuries. According to Difford's Guide, the first semblance of what would evolve into the modern classic emerged in a London apothecary in the late 1600s. The simple combination of a spirit, sweetener, and bitters was highly popular in England at that time. That popularity soon crossed the sea to the American colonies, where it took on a life — and name — of its own. Early iterations of the old fashioned were made with gin or sweet wine, but when our country gained independence from Great Britain, whiskey became the predominant spirit.

The popularity of this cocktail has waxed and waned several times. During and for a time after Prohibition, sweet fruits were added to mask the poor taste of bootleg whiskey. The old fashioned's popularity reached an all-time low in the '70s and '80s, but it saw a resurgence during the cocktail renaissance in the 1990s. The trend has stuck, with the old fashioned sitting comfortably as America's second favorite cocktail, per Drinks International. (The Negroni is No. 1, in case you were curious.) Now that we've gotten some background on this barroom classic, it's time to discuss what goes into making one, and what is the perfect type of glass in which to serve it. 

What goes into an old fashioned?

According to Liquor.com, there are four components that go into making a perfect old fashioned cocktail. First, you have your spirit. As we mentioned in the introduction, the predominant spirit in an old fashioned is whiskey. It can be made with other spirits, but whiskey is by far the most popular. You can use bourbon, rye whiskey, or even scotch. Second, you have the sweetener. Traditionally, this is a sugar cube that gets mashed together along with our third element, bitters. Element number four, water, is added to the sugar/bitters paste, dissolving the mixture so that it assimilates better with the whiskey.

There are variations to this cocktail that are enumerated in Difford's Guide. Some, like the godfather, add an extra layer of sweetness with a splash of amaretto, while others, like the Irish old fashioned, use less sugar. Regardless, the basic recipe persists. As long as you use a spirit, a sweetener, and some form of bitters, then you have an old fashioned.

Why the rocks glass is best for an old fashioned

Now we get to the title piece: What type of glass is best for an old fashioned? The answer is as simple as it is singular: a rocks glass. This glassware consists of a solid, weighty bottom that can stand up to the muddling together of the sugar and bitters and holds anywhere from 4-to-10 ounces, according to Common Man Cocktails. There are several types of rocks glasses, ranging from simple to ornate, but the overall structure remains the same.

Aside from the utility, the very nature of the old fashioned is defined by the rocks glass. Difford's Guide explains that a typical whiskey cocktail was served straight up in a small shot glass and designed to be consumed in one gulp. The old fashioned, made in this weighty, wide-brimmed glass, is designed to be sipped. It's a thinking cocktail, something with which you take your time. Coincidentally, the rocks glass has become so synonymous with the old fashioned that the glassware itself has now become known as an old fashioned glass. If that's not the mark of an icon, we don't know what is.