Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe (2024)

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By Shawn Williams

4.80 from 5 votes

Feb 14, 2019, Updated Nov 08, 2023

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A properly made Old Fashioned co*cktail is difficult to come by these days. Despite being an incredibly simple co*cktail, it’s often served as an overly sweet pulp bomb of orange flesh and muddled cherries. Let’s end the debate once and for all and learn how to make the classic Old Fashioned the correct way!

Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe (2)

The Old Fashioned co*cktail dates back to the late 1800s. It’s said to have been created by bartender, James E. Pepper in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a classic co*cktail made with whiskey (bourbon or rye), Angostura bitters, orange peel (or lemon), and a muddled sugar cube. It’s a fantastic whiskey-forward co*cktail with subtle sweetness and a bouquet of fresh citrus on the nose.

If you love the Old Fashioned co*cktail, you should also try the Sazerac co*cktail and the very similar Improved Whiskey co*cktail. If you want something a little sweeter and citrusy, look no further than the classic Whiskey Sour or my favorite Sidecar co*cktail.

Table of Contents

  • Ingredients
  • co*cktail Variations
  • How to Make Simple Syrup
  • How to Make an Old Fashioned
  • Expert Tips
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More Whiskey co*cktails
  • Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe

Ingredients

Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe (3)
  • Bourbon: I’ve suggested some of my favorite bourbons below. Use whatever you like best. While you can substitute for rye in a pinch, stick with bourbon if possible.
  • Simple sugar/demerara syrup: simple syrup is a 50-50 mix of table sugar and hot water. It’s the best way to sweeten co*cktails since it easily mixes. You can also use demerara sugar in place of table sugar. This has become the gold standard for whiskey co*cktails for its richer, darker flavor.
  • Orange peel: strictly referring to the orange peel. You should not be adding any orange flesh or muddling an orange wheel.
  • Bitters: Angostura bitters are readily available and a classic option for almost any whiskey co*cktail.
  • 20% saline solution: saline is an optional advanced ingredient in co*cktails to make the flavors pop. Just like in food, it’s used as a seasoning to enhance different flavors. Mix 80 grams of water with 20 grams of table salt. Stir until salt is dissolved.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

co*cktail Variations

There are countless variations of the Old Fashioned. For a fall-inspired spin substitute sugar with maple syrup and garnish with a cinnamon stick. For gin lovers, try the gin Old Fashioned made with old Tom gin. For my favorite infused Old Fashioned, try my fig and vanilla-infused Old Fashioned.

How to Make Simple Syrup

You can purchase simple syrup (simple sugar) premade or you can easily make it right at home. I usually make my simple syrup with a 50-50 mix of sugar and water. Heat 1 cup of water on the stovetop and add one cup of table sugar. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool, place in a sealable jar, and store in the fridge.

You can also make simple syrup in a Pyrex glass in the microwave. Microwave in intervals and stir in between. Simple syrup can be made with table sugar or demerara sugar (raw sugar), which is typically reserved for dark spirits or whiskey co*cktails.

How to Make an Old Fashioned

Step 1.

In a mixing glass or Boston shaker, combine simple syrup, bitters, and bourbon. Fill the mixing glass halfway with ice, then stir vigorously about a dozen times.

Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe (4)
Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe (5)

Step 3.

Squeeze orange peel over the glass to extract oils, wipe the rim of the glass with the peel, and add to the glass.

quick tip

Point the outer peel (non-pith side) outward facing the drink and gently squeeze the edges so the oils spray out over the top of the drink. If done properly, you can see the oils floating on the surface of your drink. This works best with two hands.

Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe (6)

Expert Tips

  • Chill your glasses in the freezer. A cold glass prevents warming and keeps your drink colder for longer.
  • Always stir an Old Fashioned. Most whiskey co*cktails are stirred rather than shaken to limit the amount of dilution and oxygen infused into the drink.
  • A giant ice cube is designed to melt slower due to its size, causing less dilution. If you’re serious about making co*cktails, invest in a clear ice maker or make your own clear ice. Clear ice cubes taste better and melt even slower.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Bourbon Do you recommend?

Buffalo Trace, Larceny, Elijah Craig, Michter’s, Henry McKenna Single Barrel, Four Roses Single Barrel, Eagle Rare, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark.

What is simple syrup?

Simple syrup, also called simple sugar, is a liquid sweetener made with equal parts sugar and water.

Can I use any kind of bitters?

Look for Angostura aromatic bitters or Scrappy’s aromatic bitters.

What’s the difference between an Old Fashioned and Manhattan?

Although often confused, a Manhattan is made with whiskey (bourbon or rye), bitters, and sweet vermouth.

More Whiskey co*cktails

Improved Whiskey co*cktail Recipe

Whiskey Sour Recipe

Manhattan co*cktail Recipe

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this co*cktail, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & areview in the comments!

4.80 from 5 votes

Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe

By: Shawn Williams

Servings: 1 co*cktail

Prep: 5 minutes mins

Total: 5 minutes mins

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Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe (11)

How to make the classic old fashioned drink the right way. Bourbon, bitters, simple syrup (sugar cube), and an orange peel.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye
  • 1/4 ounce 1 teaspoon simple syrup or demerara syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange peel, or lemon
  • optional 2 drops 20% saline solution, see note below

Instructions

  • In a mixing glass or Boston shaker, combine simple syrup, bitters, bourbon, and optional saline. Fill the mixing glass halfway with ice, then stir vigorously about a dozen times.

  • Strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass over a giant ice cube.

  • Squeeze orange peel over the glass to extract oils, wipe the rim of the glass with the peel, and add to the glass.

Notes

You can use 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar if you don’t have simple syrup.

A tip on expressing the oils from a peel: You want to point the outer peel (non-pith side) outward facing the drink and gently squeeze the edges so the oils spray out over the top of the drink. If done properly, you can see the oils floating on the surface of your drink.

Saline is an optional advanced ingredient in co*cktails to make the flavors pop. Just like in food, it’s used as a seasoning to enhance different flavors. Mix 80 grams of water with 20 grams of table salt. Stir until salt is dissolved. It’s best dispensed with a liquid dropper tool.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 154kcalCarbohydrates: 6gSodium: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: co*cktail

Cuisine: American

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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe (2024)
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