The revival of the Old Fashioned

….or did it never go out of fashion

Running food tours is not only fun but as you get to talk to many people, you tend to spot new trends at quite an early stage. A few years ago I was warned that the Gin bubble could burst any minute, but much to everybody’s surprise, it lasted a lot longer than expected.

Although there is still an appetite for G&T’s, cocktails have taken over their popularity. Whisky sours, Manhattans and Old Fashioned, have become the cocktails to have. Hand in hand with this is the boom of cocktail bars where whisky-based cocktails are now the rage.

My favourite cocktail used to be a Gin Martini stirred and not shaken and if I was in the mood, a dirty one. However, it can be a huge disappointment if premium ingredients aren’t been used, just like with an Old Fashioned when cutting back on preparation time.

Old Fashioned by Ash Edmonds – Unsplash

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. There is no such thing as a quick Old Fashioned, which tend to be made with syrup. These sugary cocktails are nothing like a Classic Old Fashion.

To be precise, it takes 10 minutes to make this famous American cocktail! Ice cubes are dropped into an Old-Fashioned glass, Bourbon poured over, a few dashes of bitter are added, and the ice gets slightly crushed. Then the lengthy process of stirring begins. According to one of Cambridge bartenders, this takes 10 minutes.

There are different processes and recipes you can follow. For example, I prefer to sprinkle the bitters on top of the sugar cube and add a splash of soda water for a lighter version.

The Old-Fashioned craze has inspired many mixologists to go wild using Gin, Tequila, Rum or Cognac. Locally you can get these at the Lab in Cambridge. The Classic version is made with Bourbon, but using Adams Whisky as MJP Restaurant does in Fen Ditton is a lovely variation.

With the ever-growing popularity of the Old Fashioned, I will keep adding to this blog. It’s a work in progress as I drink my way through Cambridge. I know, it’s a hard chore, but someone has to do it!

Dining on the Lawn at the Gonville Hotel enjoying an Old Fashioned

The Gonville Hotel at Parkers Piece

The garden of the Gonville Hotel is tucked away behind green foliage. Their hotel, restaurant and bar are overlooking Parkers Piece. On the lawn at the Gonville is perfect for cocktails, lunch or dinner at any time of the year. Featuring a lavishly decorated marquee on the Lawn, deck chairs where you can sip cocktails, play a game of Croquet before lunch and feast on local produce.

If you prefer to sip cocktails in a more traditional setting, their bar inside the hotel is a perfect option, especially over the weekends at the tunes of live music.

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Old Fashioned at the Tipsy Vegan on the Quay Side

Tipsy Vegan at the Quayside

Just a stone’s throw away from the Orator, you’ll find The Tipsy Vegan at the Quayside with stunning views over the River Cam and the Colleges. This excellent Vegan Restaurant opened its doors in July 2021. Although it is not a dedicated cocktail bar, it serves smashing cocktails! Michelle, one of the owners, loves Bourbon, so you are in for a treat if it’s one of your favourite drinks!

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Bar food and Old Fashioned at the Bird or Worm

Bird or Worm

The Bird or Worm. Possibly one of the most exciting openings of 2021 in Cambridge! In 2017 Ninja Theory was given the green light for the city’s first-ever gaming pub. It was worth the wait. Open from Mon-Fri from 11 am to 11 pm serving snack style food, excellent cocktails, wines and beers. 

Old Fashioned at NOVI Cambridge and KOTA

NOVI and KOTA Cambridge

KOTA Kitchen & Bar Eddington in North Cambridge and their sister NOVI Cambridge on Regent Street are communal and sociable dining places and specialise in botanical cocktails, vibrant brunches and sumptuous smoked BBQ dishes thanks to their in house smoker. Both KOTA and Novi boast a large bar, restaurant and roof terrace.

Old Fashioned at the Orator at the Cambridge Union

the Orator at the Cambridge Union

After a complete makeover, the Cambridge Union Society re-opened during the summer of 2021. Over the years it has long since hosted famous speakers for drinks after spirited speeches or passionate debates. While this history still stands strong, The Orator bar and Brasserie now provide a perfect destination for city dwellers and visitors, as well as Union members. Tucked away behind the Round Church in Bridge Street is a hidden gem away from the crowds.

A pre-dinner Old Fashioned at MJP Restaurant

MJP Restaurant at Fen Ditton

The award-winning Chef Mark Poynton opened his restaurant on the outskirts of Cambridge in 2020. The Ancient Shepherds in Fen Ditton is a beautiful 15th Century restaurant with rooms and just a short walk from the River Cam. Mark’s style is modern seasonal cuisine.

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The bar at the Gardenhouse

The Gardenhouse at the Graduate Hotel

The Gardenhouse at Mill Pond is relatively easy to find if you know Cambridge well. You’ll be surprised how many visitors never get to visit this scenic spot. The recent refurbishment of the Gardenhouse is absolutely stunning! It hosts a restaurant with views over the river, the poshest riverside terrace in Cambridge, and a pretty swanky bar!

The Lab Cambridge – copy right Lloyd Mann photography

The Lab Cambridge at Regent Street

This popular cocktail bar has undergone a huge refurbishment in 2021. The Lab Cambridge offers a wide range of sharing dishes and snacks alongside their signature cocktails and all the classics. Come join the experiment and enjoy a drink in their brand new 1920s themed bar, with a twist of science throughout!

Old Fashioned at the Parkers Tavern at the University Arms

Parkers Tavern at the University Arms

Parker’s Tavern Restaurant and Bar are part of one of the landmarks in Cambridge, The University Arms on Parkers Piece. It’s all about unpretentious British cooking. Tristan Welch combines his love of Cambridgeshire with his experience in the world’s best kitchens using locally sourced products.

Negroni and Old Fashioned cocktails at the Old Ticket Office

The Old Ticket Office at the Station

A magnificent pub located at Cambridge railway station, The Old Ticket Office is the perfect place to drink, meet … or wait! The beautifully restored charming old building offers a compact menu of food and a good selection of beer, wines and cocktails.

Enjoy your Old Fashioned and I love to see your images. Tag your images on Instagram #cbtravelguide and @cbtravelguide


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