How to Make an Old Fashioned the Old-Fashioned Way

SPOILER ALERT: issa cuppa bourbon

If you've just read this headline, and are thinking, But TATBT isn't really a how-to newsletter, you would be correct. And if you're thinking, There is a very angry recent college graduate who can unhinge her jaw like a snake currently helming a major ABC franchise, where the Chris-Harrison-hell is my TATBT Bachelorette coverage, to you I say: it is coming on Monday, and yes, I do think Hannah's anger is part of #theresistance.

But, reader, my soul has left my body…

Not since Dan Gilroy said "milankaly" and shaved 10 years off Jake Gyllenhaal's life have I felt the need to share such a joyous moment with you. I have never in my life yelled at a video like this.

No, I simply could not watch another thing or write another word until I knew that everyone in my life had the opportunity to experience a young woman named JaNee teaching the internet how to make an Old Fashioned nine years ago.

Surely you can tell from the above still alone that this is not your average instructional video. Please watch it. I beg of you to watch it.

The video in question appears to have been made in 1998 — or at least during some variant of "The Rachel" — but was originally uploaded on October 29th, 2010 at the same time that bestowed upon the world a bevvy of JaNee drink tutorial videos including "How to Make a Rum and Coke" (a real emotional roller coaster, I tell you what) and "How to Make a Bloody Mary," which features a gallon of orange juice prominently in its lineup of ingredients.

And it’s that giant jug of Minute Maid precisely that stands as a symbol of the magic in watching JaNee make a cocktail...

To see someone do something so incorrectly with so much confidence can be kind of inspirational. There are so many things I don’t know how to do, but watching JaNee makes me think, I guess I could just…do them?

To hear a person say "3 ounces of bourbon" and then watch her fill a pint glass with Jim Beam for what has told us explicitly is to make an Old Fashioned might leave you feeling like an insane person, as the tweet above that first introduced me to this video indicates…

But not JaNee. No, JaNee is wreaking absolute havoc with the calm demeanor of someone who took a beta blocker this morning, and the wardrobe, hairstyle, and face of Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door [ed. note: a niche reference that is dead on the money].

And the whole thing is: I don't know how to make an old fashioned either! I mean, I drink them, so I know by the simple human senses of taste and touch that there is not a mashed up elementary-school-lunch orange slice in there. But when I saw this video making the rounds on Twitter, I thought maybe it was because cocktail snobs were turning up their noses at the use of rail liquor. I simply never could have imagined what was to come.

The wildest part about this tutorial is that JaNee is so close to getting it right. Are the ingredients in front of her boldly store-brand? Sure. But they are all there...

And that’s not an indictment of the choices JaNee ultimately makes with these ingredients. I know that even if someone set out all the right items and accouterments in front of me to, say, make a candle, I’d still fuck it right up. I don't think I would... pour a glass full of candle wax into a smaller glass and then be surprised when the candle started overflowing. But I can't really say, now can I??? Because I've never had the nerve to film a candle-making tutorial video and put it on the internet.

But JaNee did. She said:

No, I HAVEN'T ever made, consumed, or been exposed to an Old Fashioned, but — a "human search engine" that thought it could rival Google in 2007 — has paid me to be the human search result for "how to make an Old Fashioned," and BY GOLLY, I will pour this bourbon until it literally cannot be poured anymore!

The best part of JaNee's Old Fashioned how-to is that it is above mockery. Every time I think I can make fun of it, I just circle back around to awe. Because nothing slows JaNee down: not a desperately empty bottle of bitters, not a complete lack of understanding for imperial measurements, and certainly not the fear of sending someone to the hospital. 

Yes, we all start to pay attention around the time that JaNee fills up a pint glass with bourbon, and we become officially rapt when she begins — I honestly get short of breath every time I think about this — pouring that bourbon back and forth between two different sized glasses. But far before that, JeNee reveals herself to be winging all of this to the most commendable degree. 

While listing her ingredients, JaNee explains that the sugar cube she'll be using could be subbed for simple syrup, "depending on how sweet, or if you want it a little more liquid-y."

Which is to suggest, not only that sweetness and liquidity stand in opposition to each other, but that a pint glass of bourbon could have ultimately been made "more liquid-y" had she used sugar syrup instead. But thank the lord,, that JaNee was provided with a dryer sheet box full of sugar cubes because, can you imagine what could have happened if she'd had to navigate a stovetop?

See, utensils are not exactly JaNee's specialty. A cherished favorite moment of mine is when she dives right into the maraschino cherry jar with her bare fingers and then dives right back in one more time because she likes to use two cherries. "Just to give it a little more cherry flavor," she tells us with a coy smile.

Then JaNee grabs that sugar cube she's been so excited about thickening this drink up with, and homegirl gets to mashing. Now, I am no mixologist, but I believe one generally calls the practice of mashing fruits..."muddling?" And the way the sugar cube dissolves naturally under the bitters of the best parts of an Old Fashioned? But not on JaNee's watch — she mashes and mashes with the end of a wooden stew spoon until that orange slice is nice and sinewy, just how us Old-Fashioned-lovers like it.

One might wonder why, in a video that sets out specifically to make an Old Fashioned — and that sports a bar so fully stocked that it includes, to the naked eye, nine different kinds of schnapps — the utensils needed for the drink wouldn't just be provided beforehand.

But in that case, one would be disregarding JaNee's passion for ingenuity. She tells us that anything can work to mash up your orange slice and Kirkland Signature maraschino cherries — a wooden spoon end, an old boot, a monkey's paw, a moss-covered stick you found outside, your entire fist —  just whatever is laying around your giant bar table specifically laid out to film the making of an Old Fashioned!

Now, the true hidden joy of this entire video, and where JaNee earned every single one of her shares that hopefully allowed her to retire to an island where no one would dare try to make her create or consume an Old Fashioned ever again, is watching our girl pick up a bitters bottle as empty as it is giant, and shake-shake-shake it into the glass while not a damn thing comes out, save the confident performance of a dude on Twitter with an egg avatar telling an expert in their field how their field works. JaNee invented mansplaining, and she did it in an off-the shoulder top.

Two or three dashes — only you can decide how much invisible bitters you'd like to flavor the fruit salad at the bottom of your glass with!

And next, of course, you grab your "ice cup." You slam it into your cooler, and you fill your Old Fashioned pint glass — and I cannot stress this enough — all the way to the brim with ice. Those cubes needs to be clicking around in there like they’re a motherfucking Delta desk agent with a fresh acrylic set seeing if she can rebook your cancelled flight before that vein actually bursts right out of your forehead. To! The! Brim! Clink! Clink! Clinkity! Clink!

Finally, the money shot: JaNee tells us that we're going to put in three (3) ounces (oz.) of bourbon. She picks up that gorgeous Jim Beam; she tips it sideways; and she unloads half a bottle of bourbon into this pint glass of ice and cherry pulp...

And then she explains to us — that this is "a pretty strong drink."

This is the point that I have to believe anyone could get on board with JaNee. Because if you went to a bar and ordered an expensive cocktail...and then you watched that bartender grab cherries with her bare fingers and mash up an orange slice with the business end of a broomstick, and mime dashing in bitters...couldn't all still be forgiven once she just served you up a half-bottle of bourbon that you could pass around to all your friends with a ginger ale chaser, and call it a $12 night?

No, it's not good; no it's not safe; no it's not "bar-tending." It's just bourbon. And JaNee's got a loaves-and-fishes kind of relationship with it.

So, now that we're all cool with JaNee making us drinks and just not, like, watching our children or anything, let's quickly check back in on how to finish this Old Fashioned off. Because you might be looking at a pint of bourbon with a smashed up orange (no doubt, sticker still on) at the bottom, and think you're ready to leave the bar with a Lyft to the hospital already called, but no.

First, a history lesson. JaNee tells us that not that many people order Old Fashioneds anymore because...

Indeed, this glass of bourbon is the drink of our ancestors — when you drink it [ed. note: please don’t], think of them.

And when you watch in horror as JaNee picks up your giant glass of bourbon and pours it into a significantly smaller glass "because of course you're gonna wanna make sure all those flavors get mixed up," and then pours it back and forth thrice more, just know that for every ounce of bourbon she sloshes onto the tablecloth below, JaNee is saving you one stomach pump.

And for that, we thank her.

The woman, the myth, the not-even-a-little-bit-a-bartender: JaNee. May we all have her confidence to do the things we're not at all equipped to do heading into this summer. Never used a grill? Light er' up. Never traveled alone? Book that ticket. Never worn a bikini? Throw it the fuck on, and grab a drink. But I tell you this in no uncertain terms: do not make that drink a JaNee Old Fashioned.

See you back here on Monday for a recap of The Bachelorette thus far, and if you have any comments on Hannah already, I'd love to hear them!