Old Fashioned
The first printed definition of the word cocktail came from the Hudson, New York, newspaper, The Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806. When Asked by a subscriber what this (relatively) new word cock-tail meant, the editor replied:

Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters- it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.

Political commentary aside, this crude formula- any type of spirit, sugar, water, and bitters- is not a bad formula for a family of drinks.

If the drink is beginning to sound at all familiar, it is because it is the same drink we typically think of as an old-fashioned today. It is believed that once the word cocktail took hold, all drinks became known as cocktails (as the still are), and old-timers looking for that original formula might ask the bartender for a cocktail “in the old fashion.” (Spirits/Cocktails)