A stern and ancient beast, with over two centuries of history, this is allegedly what you’d get if you asked for “a cocktail” in the early 19th century.
Take one sugar cube (brown or white) and place it in the bottom of — guess what! — an old fashioned glass. Get the Angostura Bitters and aim a couple of drops at the sugar cube. You’ll miss, but no worries, add a teaspoon of water. Use a muddling spoon to crush the sugar cube and thoroughly mix with the liquid. Add ice, 50mL bourbon, and garnish with orange peel, should there be an orange on the premises. A quick swirl and you’re ready to go. It’s a firm drink, that leaves you in no doubt you’re drinking hard liquor, so don’t be afraid to loosen it with a splash of soda water.
One of the legends around the heyday of cocktails was that they were a way of masking the flavour of moonshine during the prohibition era. Don’t ever use this as an excuse to buy nasty bourbon.