So Old-Fashioned

January 2023 View more

From doughnuts to cocktails, always a classic



Doughnuts from DeEtta’s Bakery

DeEtta’s Bakery


Owner Morgan Tyschper’s explanation for the enduring popularity of the old-fashioned could just as well be describing the attributes of a good friend: “A simple flavor profile that everyone can relate to.” Amen to that. Tyschper lauds the appeal of the doughnut’s crinkled top, which provides excellent grooves and peaks to capture the glaze and give a crispy outside texture upon frying. You have to appreciate her can’t-miss ingredients: “Love and care are the two most important components in making delicious old-fashioneds.” Again, amen to that.

VARIATION ON A THEME: Among the nearly two dozen kinds of doughnuts on offer at DeEtta’s (Fridays through Sundays only), the classic and chocolate (pictured) old-fashioneds hold firm and steady places. During the summer months, however, they get a run for their money from their seasonal cousin, the lemon old-fashioned.

428 W. Fifth Ave.,


A doughnut from Firecakes Donuts

Firecakes Donuts


There are plenty of eye-popping and mouthwatering creations filling the case of this regional chain. But when it comes to popularity, one no-frills contender proves its substance-over-style merit day in and day out. “Our buttermilk old-fashioned is our No. 1 selling doughnut,” says vice president of operations Michael Battocletti. “Personally, I think it’s the crispy edges that you don’t get on a yeast or regular cake doughnut—those different textures really make a difference.”

VARIATION ON A THEME: The pistachio old-fashioned (pictured)—which incorporates both pistachio paste in the glaze and roasted pistachios as a garnish—is a worthy everyday sidekick to the buttermilk original. Meanwhile, rotating seasonal old-fashioned varieties, including an orange poppyseed take, make fleeting cameos on the Firecakes menu throughout the year.

50 S. Main St.,


A blueberry doughnut from Fiene’s Bakery

Fiene’s Bakery


“The old-fashioned doughnut brings a sense of nostalgia,” says owner Meghan Fiene. “It’s a nod to simpler times and handmade treats.” As such, the two absolute-must ingredients in a Fiene’s old-fashioned are sour cream and buttermilk, which help give the doughnut a smooth, dense texture inside the crispy outside layer. And while her maple pecan and Boston cream doughnuts have their fan bases, Fiene says customers always seem to make room for at least a couple of doses of that nostalgia among their dozens.

VARIATION ON A THEME: In addition to its classic vanilla old-fashioned, Fiene’s Bakery fries up its chocolate and blueberry (pictured) varieties daily. Come spring, a lemon old-fashioned also joins the lineup.

1603 N. Aurora Rd.,



A cocktail from The Next Whiskey Bar

The Next Whiskey Bar

Lisle and Plainfield

If you have “whiskey” in your name, you’d better be able to deliver a solid old-fashioned. Owner Dan Tacone and his teams in Plainfield and Lisle must be doing just that, because the NWB Fashioned outsells every other cocktail on the slate by about 30 percent. “It’s endured the test of time because of its simplicity,” Tacone explains.“The whiskey is the star of the show—it’s just dressed up a bit in an old-fashioned.”

THE OLD PLAYBOOK: Tacone cites three main things that set the NWB old-fashioned apart: the Demerara sugar with its notes of caramel, molasses and toffee; orange bitters in addition to the traditional angostura; and finishing off the drink by expressing the oils from fresh lemon and orange peels to give it a hint of citrus on the nose and palate.

4732 Main St., Lisle; 24205 W. Lockport St., Plainfield;


A cocktail from Common Good Cocktail House

Common Good Cocktail House

Glen Ellyn

“The beauty of the old-fashioned lies in its simplicity,” says Common Good co-owner Chad Hauge. “It is the very basic cocktail as defined by Jerry Thomas in the mid-1800s, containing booze, bitters, and sugar. Each element can reinforce the next, and as each generation’s palate changes it can be customized to our constantly changing regional and seasonal preferences.” And customers seemingly can’t get enough of that simplicity, as Common Good’s old-fashioneds—a house version and a reserve version, made with barrel-select Maker’s Mark whiskey—consistently rate among its most popular concoctions.

THE OLD PLAYBOOK: Besides the whiskeys, Hauge says Common Good’s sugar and bitters choices also help its old-fashioned stand out. But the real differentiator, he believes, is the close attention paid to water integration during the stir, taking into account everything from the relative thickness of the glass to the size of the cubic ice to the number of revolutions needed to get to the ideal cocktail.

560 Crescent Blvd.,


A cocktail from Allegory



Owner Chris Mason tends to get a bit philosophical when asked to describe what might make one version of this classic supper-club cocktail stand out from another: “As with most worthwhile things in life, no single thing is the secret to success.” Fair enough, but there has to at least be some explanation for why Allegory patrons consume more than two times as many of Mason’s old-fashioneds as any other drink on the menu. “Ours isn’t just good—it’s absolutely the very best old-fashioned you’ll ever have,” he says. “Because ours is made with love—and witchcraft.”

THE OLD PLAYBOOK: In addition to the aforementioned witchcraft, Mason credits “the delicate balance of all of the ingredients complementing each other in harmonious bliss”—J. Rieger’s Kansas City whiskey, BroVo Boomerang, Oloroso sherry Demerara, angostura, and orange bitters—for the outsize popularity of his old-fashioned.

224 S. Main St.,


Photos courtesy of DeEtta’s Bakery, Torrie Fox (Firecakes), Fienens, New Whiskey Bar, Ali Hartmen (Allegory), and Common Good Cocktail House