Respect Your Elders

5 Ways to Drink Like an Old Man


Old man bars live and die by their regulars. Not regulars as in, the guy behind the counter sort of remembers your order from your last visit -- regulars as in, Charlie's been sitting on that stool since the end of the Nixon administration. The bartender knows his kids, busts his chops, and pours his drinks as stiff as he did in the 1970s. We should all be so lucky.

In Old Man Drinks, Robert Schnakenberg celebrates these corner bars and the sailors, cab drivers, and salesmen who haunt them with classic recipes and salient bits of grandfatherly wisdom. Just take it from Dick, 80, a retired factory worker: "I'm gonna die someday, so I may as well drink."
If you're tired of muddling and macerating and mixology in general, pull up a stool and settle in to some of Schnakenberg's old man classics.

1.) Gin and Milk

2 oz Gin
1 cup Milk

Combine the liquid ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a Collins glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

2.) Rusty Nail

2 oz Scotch
1 oz Drambuie

Fill an Old-Fashioned glass with cracked ice, add Scotch, top with Drambuie.

3.) Salty Dog

2 oz Vodka
3 oz Grapefruit juice

Salt the rim of a highball glass, then fill with cracked ice. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, pour into the glass.

4.) Scotch and Soda

2 oz Scotch
3 oz Club soda

Fill an Old-Fashioned Glass with a few ice cubes, then pour in Scotch. Fill the glass half way with soda. Stir. Add a twist of lime.

5.) Boilermaker

10 oz Beer
2 oz Whiskey

Fill a shotglass with whiskey; drop the contents of the shotglass into the beer and drink immediately.

Recipes adapted from Old Man Drinks, by Robert Schnakenberg. Quirk Books, 2010.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Sullylv
    69723 125

    Two drinks my "old man" always enjoyed...a "perfect Manhattan" and the Stinger!

    Sep 18, 2010 at 10:27 AM

  • Snooth User: bjones
    101777 1

    first bartending job was in an 'old man' bar. 65 cent Blatz drafts on tap. Imperial was the preferred whiskey. never made anything more complicated than rum and coke (seriously). after a few weeks, i didn't have to ask 90% of the customers what they wanted to drink. they drank the same drink, every day. and usually the same number of them. they came in and left at the same time each day. in fact, their habits were so regular (and most were so old) that if someone did not show up, we worried that something may have happened to them. great experience. lousy tips.

    Sep 18, 2010 at 2:43 PM

  • Snooth User: roodbrian
    443092 1

    As any "old man" knows, drinks with more than two ingredients are for people who don't actually like spirits, and using premium spirits in such a drink is strictly for suckers.

    Sep 18, 2010 at 5:10 PM

  • What about a perfect Old Fashioned, with the muddled fruit and dash of bitters.....nice!

    Sep 18, 2010 at 5:55 PM

  • Snooth User: MarkCDP
    540619 19

    Muddled fruit makes a mess of an Old Fashioned's looks and flavor. It's a drink with fruit, not a fruit juice drink. Squeeze an orange peel to release the oil, add a cherry and lemon twist. That's it. If you're in a bar where you don't know the bartender, the safe order is "Old Fashioned, no fruit".

    Sep 18, 2010 at 11:49 PM

  • Mark, in todays world you're absolutely correct, and I agree. My comments and the "spirit" of the menu list presented...was in the "old days". When men were men, and drinks created for the buyer, with style, and flair...and enjoyed! The muddling created an essence that you can't duplicate otherwise. I realize those days are gone, and so very much the tradition of the bar keep, aka mixologist today. Personally, I hate fruit drinks...not even sure what they are. This wasn't about a "safe order", but rather tradition. Cheers!

    Sep 19, 2010 at 6:41 PM

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