Still Life with Wine, Cake, and Nuts by Raphaelle Peale

ArtBites - The 1862 Bartender's Guide and a Whiskey Cocktail

Cover of the 1862 Bartender's Guide

The following recipe is taken directly from the pages of Jerry Thomas’s 1862, Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix all Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks. Thomas was the most famous bartender of his day. His book gave birth to the American cocktail craze and established the bartender as a creative professional.

Whiskey Cocktail Recipe (an Old-Fashioned) 
3 o 4 dashes gum syrup *
2 dashes bitters (Boker’s) **
1 wine-glass of whiskey ***

Fill one-third full of fine ice; shake and strain in a fancy red wine-glass. Put in a piece of twisted lemon peel in the glass and serve.

Makes one cocktail

* Gum syrup was a popular cocktail ingredient in 19th century mixology. Early recipes for gum syrup include gum arabic and sweet almonds. By the time Thomas wrote his bartender’s guide, it was made with gum arabic and sugar. Gum syrup disappeared in the 1920s during Prohibition but has recently seen a resurgence.

If you don’t have gum syrup, muddle one sugar cube with bitters at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass or use 1/4 ounce of simple syrup, the equivalent to 2 to 3 dashes.

** Boker’s was a brand of bitters used in many cocktails in Jerry Thomas’s Bartender’s Guide. It’s key ingredients were cassia, cardamom and bitter orange peel. The company closed during Prohibition.

***1 wine-glass is equivalent to 2 ounces

Recipe courtesy of Maite Gomez-Rejón