The Old Fashioned cocktail is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) cocktail recipes around, and it’s still a favorite today; it’s just one of those basic drinks that is super yummy and that both cocktail enthusiasts and novices love.

an old fashioned bulleit bourbon cocktail with orange peel and maraschino cherry and 2 ounces bourbon

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Dating back to the early 1800s and known as the “old fashioned whiskey cocktail” or “the whiskey cocktail made in the old fashioned way,” it’s often considered the original cocktail and is about as classic as a classic cocktail can get! It’s certainly one of the oldest known cocktails in existence, and you can’t really go wrong with it.

Other than being delicious, one of the best things about an Old Fashioned is that it’s made with just a few simple ingredients: 2 ounces rye whiskey, sugar, aromatic bitters, and garnished with an orange peel and/or fancy cherry.

This is one of my favorite cocktails. It’s also a fantastic formula for a world of delicious drinks. But before we go too crazy mixing things up (get it?), I thought it’d be worth going back to the basics with our favorite recipe for this classic drink.

mixing old fashioned cocktail from scratch with ice cubes

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A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR

I know this may not be the recipe you’re used to, and for the most part, I think the drink is open to interpretation. There are a lot of regional differences, but if you’re looking to stay pretty close to the classic version, this recipe is my personal favorite.

In the most traditional sense, this cocktail should be made with a sugar cube (or even a teaspoon of sugar) and a splash of water, muddled in the glass. But I prefer to make it with rich simple syrup or Demerara syrup. Again… To each their own! 

Pouring old fashioned with balanced flavor profiles into a whiskey glass from mixing glass

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And a word of warning: Remember that this is a pretty strong drink, being mostly liquor with some sugar to cover the bite. Tread carefully!

By the way, if you’re interested in the history of the cocktail, check out our post “Deconstructing the Old Fashioned” and a great comparison about The Old Fashioned vs the Manhattan (another great classic!)

bar spoon to mix buffalo trace old fashioned spirit-forward whiskey cocktail with bold flavor notes and a citrus peel

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VARIATIONS ON THE CLASSIC OLD FASHIONED RECIPE

If you do want to change things up a bit and get creative with your Old Fashioneds, here are some really easy modifications with more modern twists:

  • Use Demerara syrup, brown sugar syrup, maple syrup, or flavored syrup (like lemon).
  • Switch out the Angostura for orange bitters or even rhubarb or chocolate bitters.
  • Make the drink with bourbon whiskey instead of rye

In today’s video, Chris is making this classic whiskey cocktail with a richer syrup than a typical simple syrup, and he gives you the option of base spirit: You can make this cocktail with rye whiskey or bourbon. The choice is yours! 

 

HOW TO MAKE AN OLD FASHIONED:

This is a pretty quick mixed drink to make; the longest part of the prep time is making your simple syrup. We’d love to know how you feel about this riff on the classic recipe and if you have any favorite variations. Leave us a comment below and let us know!

bartender holding cocktail with rye whiskey and a cocktail cherry and orange peel

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NOTE ON GLASSWARE

There’s a reason the rocks/lowball glass is also known as the “old fashioned glass.” You can definitely serve this in a coupe glass or Nick and Nora, but it’s really tradition to use a rocks glass/bucket glass. 

 

 

cozy cocktail with bitters and simple syrup with maraschino cherry

Old Fashioned Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Course: Drinks
Author: Chris Tunstall

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Demerara Granulated Sugar Syrup or Brown Sugar Syrup
  • 2 Dashes Orange Bitters
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients into mixing glass, add ice cubes, and stir with a bar spoon until properly mixed (5-7 seconds).
  • Strain into rocks glass with a large ice cube.
  • Garnish with expressed orange twist and brandied cherry.