Cole’s Old-Fashioned

You may recall that in my last post, I remarked that “Old-Fashioned recipes are like assholes – everyone’s got one.”

Well, as it turns out (not much to my surprise), I am not alone in my quest to assuage the strain of fatherhood through intoxicating beverage. Heavens, no. Hence, I am inaugurating a new guest segment, where upon other thirsty fathers may share and dissertate their chosen poison. It shall be called henceforth, “Contributing Carousers”.

The first installment welcomes a friend of mine whom possesses both incredible creativity and the remarkable ability to make potent potables disappear at alarming rates. Beyond being a wonderful father, Geoff, like myself, is really into Italian shit (hashtag #reallyintoitalianshit) and wears a handsome beard. But of course he would – he’s a Dad. If your Dad doesn’t have a beard, then, well – you’ve got two Mums. Sorry if that’s upsetting, but I’m not doing you any favours by shielding you from this anymore.

So without further ado, I turn the house over to Geoffrey W. Cole.


Monsieur Jardine, thank you for inviting me to supply a guest post for your metaphysical speakeasy. I have been a patron of The Paternal Drunk since its inception in nineteen-and-ought. Your drinks have been brought me succor on many an infant-tear-soaked night. As a father, it is so encouraging to know that The Paternal Drunk is out here doing the necessary and dare I say dangerous research into those beverages most suitable for the gentleman patriarch. You do good work, man.

All that said, I’m here today to expound upon one of my favourite cocktails, the Old-Fashioned. While I will be forever indebted to M. Jardine for his kind invitation, I have to state here, unequivocally, that everything The Paternal Drunk had to say about the Old-Fashioned cocktail in his previous post was a damned lie.

In the cellar of a New Orleans brothel, on the eve of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, disgraced red-headed physician Pierre St. Jean demanded that his strumpet nurse mix sugar, whiskey, bitters, and water to calm his nerves before performing a self-appendectomy. The surgery was a dismal failure, but what followed has been carefully hidden for over two hundred years. Nine months after the invention of the drink, every woman working in the brothel that fateful night gave birth to red-headed twins.

The recipe for the cocktail passed to the New Orleans Catholic diocese, where it was hidden until a young priest found the hastily-written instructions. This priest, whose name has been struck from the diocese’s records, mixed the ingredients and gave it out during mass. A year later the bishop of New Orleans couldn’t hear himself deliver his sermon over the squall of wailing infants.

The history of the Old-Fashioned between the American Civil War and the start of the Great War is murky. What is known is that the cocktail was either rediscovered, or the recipe somehow lifted from the vaults of the St. Louis Cathedral, in time to be widely distributed to the celebrants in New Orleans on Armistice Day. From there, the cocktail spread across the continent. Bars in Manhattan and San Francisco and Montreal could be found serving the drink. This lasted for approximately two years, until the United States Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, a Prohibition on all alcoholic beverages, but most certainly designed to eliminate the destabilizing effects of the Old-Fashioned. Recently declassified documents confirm that the US Military took possession of the last printed Old-Fashioned recipe in 1921.

After the Second World War, with America on the brink of economic collapse, the population of Europe ravaged by the atrocities of the war, U.S. President Harry Truman made a bold decision to release the recipe for the Old-Fashioned from its unnamed cell. Returning men and women were greeted with a stiff drink with a comforting name to reward them for their service. The next year, the Baby Boom began in earnest.

In the 1960s, drugs and hallucinogens became de rigueur for the youth of America. The Old-Fashioned lost some of its allure in those years, and fell into a sad decline. This once potent and delicious amplifier of fecundity became a handsome grandfather’s drink. A joke. Society moved on from more traditional pleasures. Youth became obsessed with androgynous musicians, socialist politicians, music videos, skinny jeans, and the You Tube.

Yet in recent years the Old-Fashioned has made somewhat of a resurgence. Hirsute gentlemen may be heard to order the cocktail at finer drinking establishments. Hopeful couples often have more luck with the cocktail than they do with test tubes. A man just looks handsome holding this cocktail.

So use this recipe wisely, and only for good. Be prepared for the consequences. For those fathers reading this, be warned that vasectomies have on occasion proved an insufficient impediment for a well-made Old-Fashioned. Just looking at your woman while holding the drink has been a confirmed source of conception in at least four cases.

Paternal Drunk - Post 11 - Coles Old-Fashioned - S

    • 2 oz. of Colonel E. H. Taylor Small Batch Bourbon
    • 2 dashes Angosturra [sic] bitters
    • ¼ tsp. sugar, the white kind
    • 1 oz. aqua frizzante
    • 2 cubes of ice

Steady yourself at the kitchen counter. Purists insist on wearing leather shoes while mixing this drink, but any footwear will do, though if it has to be slippers, ensure they are hard-soled. In a Nutella jar, wet the sugar with a few dashes of Angosturra bitters. Yes, Angosturra. New fathers don’t have time to buy fancy bitters and Angosturra can be found at the grocery story. Splash some aqua frizzante – preferably tap water you’ve carbonated by hand – over the bitter sugar and stir with an espresso spoon until the sugar dissolves.

Get out the bottle of bourbon. Take a sniff. Appreciate the deep amber colour. Drift off into memories of days long gone when you could sleep late when afflicted by a hangover. I use E. H. Taylor Small Batch bourbon because some wonderful friends gave me the bottle as a birthday present. Also, it is delicious and the damn stuff is a hair-growing 100 proof. You could also use the 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, but the E.H. Taylor bottle is taller, so you will likely see it first when you reach into the liquor cabinet. Add the bourbon. Drop in two cubes of ice, ideally freshly frozen Vancouver drinking water, though glacier ice will suffice. Mix with the same espresso spoon while staring out the window. Delusional self-comparisons to Don Draper are only acceptable in this brief moment. Garnish with a bit of orange peel. Some men enjoy the taste and feel of a booze-soaked maraschino cherry crunching between their teeth after they’ve finished their cocktail. This is permissible. Muddling the cherry with the sugar is an abomination. Comb out your beard with the palm of your hand and take the first sip.

I will provide no instruction for what comes next.

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