We are currently renters, and we probably will be renters for the next few years. However, when we do buy a house, there’s really only one thing that I want that I don’t have now (and probably won’t have as a renter). That one thing is a bar.

Now, I’m not talking about having a few bottles of liquor in my cabinet and some pretty glasses to pour it in. I mean a full fledged cocktail bar, fully stocked with all of the weird shit you need to mix whatever my guests might want. In my wildest dreams it’s even a wet bar (yeah, my wildest dreams are about plumbing). I picture this bar being in the basement, right next to my tiny movie theater. Your house has a tiny movie theater too, right?

Anyway, the second part of this little fantasy involves me actually knowing how to make a wide range of cocktails so that I look extra cool in front of my friends. When I say cocktails here, I’m not talking about Purple Hooter Shooters or Jack and Cokes. I’m talking about actual, classy cocktails. The Manhattan. The Martini. The Gimlet. And my recent obsession, the Old Fashioned.

I became interested in this drink because of Mad Men. Don Draper drinks an Old Fashioned every once in a while, and I realized that while I had heard of this drink, I had no idea what was in it. Turns out there are a lot of variations (and some controversy, to be honest), but basically it’s just sugar with enough water to dissolve it, a couple of dashes of bitters, a big shot of whisky (or whiskey, if you prefer), and some ice. That’s it. Variations include adding some orange or orange peel and/or a cherry, but the original had neither. It was basically whisky and sugar water.

I find that to be incredibly appealing.

Why? Well, it’s probably because of Mad Men, but I do think that the drinking culture has changed drastically in the last fifty years in this country. Most of the mixed drinks you see today have so much other stuff in them that it’s often hard to taste the alcohol at all. It’s as if the attitude now is, “we want to get drunk quickly, but we mostly want this to taste like Kool-Aid.”

However, these deceptively simple cocktails that were popular in the 50’s and 60’s aren’t like that at all. You can definitely taste the liquor in the drink, and the other flavors are there to highlight and accent, not cover and obscure. And while they sound easy to make, it’s more complicated than it appears. There are tons of variations on even the simplest drink, and in the end, it’s really a matter of taste. These drinks seem to have an attitude that says, “drinking me is classy, a refined and acquired taste.” Let’s face it, that’s just way cooler than a jello shot.

Anyway, here’s a video that talks about the Old Fashioned and gives a damn good recipe for making one. You can trust me on this, I tried it. Multiple times. This guy’s whole site is awesome if you’re interested in making cocktails. You should check it out.

By the way, I don’t know if any bar in Nashville where you could order an Old Fashioned and get something that’s drinkable. If you do, let me know.