Old Fashioned

This popular classic Old Fashioned drink recipe is easy to make with only 4 ingredients, featuring your favorite whiskey with simple syrup.


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Old fashioned cocktail

An old fashioned is a whiskey lovers go to cocktail drink and is perfect to serve your guests or enjoy for the holidays!!

This amazing old fashioned cocktail has been enjoyed for generations and is always in fashion. I enjoy mine with an extra orange peel and with regular ice cubes or a big chunk of ice but you can also use a cherry as a garnish in your cocktail.

What is an old fashioned?

Old-fashioned is a simple classic cocktail with a rich history dating back to the early 19th century and is one of the original cocktails.

It is an elegant cocktail for serving guests anytime but especially at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and features simple ingredients with whiskey, sugar, bitters and a twist of citrus fruit usually an orange peel.

Old fashioned bourbon cocktail sitting on a plate.

Manhattan vs old fashioned

Both are whiskey based cocktails with an old fashioned being a simpler cocktail featuring whiskey with minimal additional ingredients. The Manhattan uses sweet vermouth which creates a more intricate flavor profile balancing the sweetness and bitterness.

Why you’ll love this cocktail recipe

  • Old fashioned Whiskey lovers favorite
  • Simple ingredients for an elegant cocktail
  • Timeless cocktail to serve guests during the holidays
  • Many ways to customize to suit your tastes

Old Fashioned Ingredients

Ingredients for old fashioned cocktail on a wooden counter.
  • Bourbon – we used Woodford Reserve 1 1/2 ounces
  • Sweetener (Simple Syrup)– use your favorite simple syrup or see the easy recipe on the notes section of the recipe card.
  • Aromatic Bitters – Angostura bitters is most often used with 2 to 4 dashes depending on your tastes
  • Ice cubes – regular or large (optional)
  • Orange Peel – using a swivel peeler to make a 1 inch strip of orange peel which is the perfect citrus punch for an old fashioned recipe. The oils give off an delightful orange fragrance that you can also rim around your glass before adding ingredients and the perfect garnish
  • Additional Orange Peel – optional extra citrus garnish that I enjoy
  • Luxardo Cherry or Maraschino Cherry – this is an optional ingredient that some really enjoy the extra sweet flavor of the cherry and adds another level of visual appeal as a garnish

Substitutions

You can use your favorite rye whiskey to make an old fashioned but I much prefer using bourbon.

Best bourbon for old fashioned?

Any higher proof bourbon will work well in an old fashioned. This recipe uses Woodford Reserve, a 90-proof bourbon, but Buffalo Trace, Blantons, Bulleit, or 1792 would all be good choices for this drink. It really comes down to your favorite higher proof bourbon is the best one to use.

Overhead view of old fashioned bourbon cocktail in glass.

Should you use a sugar cube or simple syrup?

Sugar cubes (thought to be the original sweetener for old fashioned) can be used in place of simple syrup. Add 1-2 sugar cubes to glass, or 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of water and bitters, muddle to break up sugar and incorporate.

Traditionalists would suggest that you should craft it using sugar cubes to muddle down in your glass and crush them mixing them with some bitters to create a kind of syrup.

I guess I am not a traditionalist, as I usually like to just use a simple syrup in place of sugar cubes for its ease of use and a more consistent cocktail.

It really is up to you which way you prefer and if your muddling skills are up to par!!

Best bitters for old fashioned

Angostura bitters is most often used in an old fashioned cocktail and what I usually use.

A commonly used substitution for bitters is Campari, a red Italian liqueur that is very bitter.  Use about a ¼ of a teaspoon in place of the bitters in this recipe.

Absinthe is another common replacement for bitters, ¼ teaspoon can be used in this recipe to replace the aromatic bitters.

Two glass of old fashioned cocktails sitting on wooden board.

Old fashioned recipe for simple syrup

Using 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Combine them in a small saucepan and over a medium heat stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. If you want a slightly thicker syrup let the mixture simmer for a few more minutes.

Allow to cool and you can store in an airtight container for 10 to 14 days in the fridge.

How to make an old fashioned recipe

Step by step images for how to make old fashioned cocktail.

STEP ONE – Add simple syrup and bitters to a lowball glass, stir to incorporate.

STEP TWO – Add ice and bourbon, stir for 10 seconds to chill bourbon.

STEP THREE – Squeeze orange peel over glass (shiny side down) to release oils then add peel to glass.

STEP FOUR – Garnish with additional orange peel on a skewer or maraschino cherries.

Variations

Different old fashioned recipes are fun to make like a honey old fashioned by using 2 teaspoons of honey in place of the simple syrup.

You can also make a maple old fashioned by adding 2 teaspoons of maple syrup in place of the simple syrup.

Side view of old fashioned cocktail.

Top tips for making the best old fashioned recipe

  • Ice is not necessary in this cocktail.  Mix in a separate glass with ice to chill, then strain cocktail into glass for serving to prevent dilution from melted ice
  • A larger ice cube will also work well, it will melt slower than smaller pieces of ice to prevent dilution
  • Using sugar cubes or a simple syrup is up to you but it can be fun to have your guests try their hand at muddling the sugar cubes or showing off your own skills
  • You can make your own sugar cubes by using my simple syrup recipe and place your syrup into molds to be frozen in the freezer

Best glass to use for old fashioned drink

The best glass most often used for an old fashioned is a low-ball glass, but any heavy bottomed glass that can handle muddling would work for this recipe.

You may also enjoy these recipes with your cocktail

Holiday Rum Balls

Savory Chex Mix

Roasted Cinnamon Spices Mixed Nuts

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Orange Ricotta Cookies

Holiday White Chocolate Chex Mix

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

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Old fashioned cocktail on wooden board.

Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe


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  • Author: Sandra Flegg
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving

Description

This popular classic Old Fashioned drink recipe is easy to make with only 4 ingredients, featuring your favorite whiskey with simple syrup.


Ingredients

Units

2 teaspoons simple syrup

23 dashes aromatic bitters

½ cup ice

1.5 ounces bourbon

Orange peel

Instructions

Add simple syrup and bitters to a lowball glass, stir to incorporate.

Add ice and bourbon, stir for 10 seconds to chill bourbon.

Squeeze orange peel over glass to release oils then add peel to glass.

Garnish with additional orange peel on a skewer or maraschino cherries.


Instructions

  1. Add simple syrup and bitters to a lowball glass, stir to incorporate.
  2. Add ice and bourbon, stir for 10 seconds to chill bourbon.
  3. Squeeze orange peel (shiny side down) over glass to release oils then add peel to glass.
  4. Garnish with additional orange peel on a skewer or maraschino cherries.

Notes

Simple Syrup Instructions: Add 1-2 sugar cubes to glass, or 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of water and bitters, muddle to break up sugar and incorporate.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Christmas, Cocktails
  • Method: No Bake
  • Cuisine: American

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