Old Fashioned Cocktail Drink

Old Fashioned

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

If you’re looking to make a classic drink, this Old Fashioned recipe has all the ingredients you need for a perfect cocktail! It’s straightforward to make and delivers a taste that’s both rich and satisfying.

Original Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Sip your way into relaxation with this classic Old Fashioned recipe! Made with bourbon, bitters, and a hint of sweetness, this timeless cocktail adds elegance to any occasion.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

149 kl

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • 1 barspoon soda water
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange twist or cherry, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Muddler
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Place 1 sugar cube in the bottom of your Old Fashioned glass.
  • Add Bitters: Dash 2-3 dashes Angostura aromatic bittersover the sugar cube.
  • Add Soda Water: Measure and pour 1 barspoon soda water.
  • Muddle: Use a muddler to crush the sugar cube and mix it with the bitters.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 1 oz Bourbon into the glass.
  • Stir Gently: Stir the ingredients together using a bar spoon to mix them.
  • Add Ice & stir: Add some ice cubes and stir again for 20 revolutions.
  • Ice and pour: Fill your glass with ice cubes and pour 1 oz Bourbon.
  • Stir: Stir one more time for about 25 revolutions.
  • Garnish: Add an orange twist or a cherry for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: You can use rye whiskey for a spicier kick if you're out of bourbon. I've also tried using scotch for a smokier profile, and it's excellent!
  • Angostura Bitters: You can use orange bitters for a fruitier profile. I love how it slightly changes the flavor but maintains the drink's character.
  • Sugar Cube: I've used a teaspoon of simple syrup instead of a sugar cube in a pinch, which works fine.

Making a Pitcher of Old Fashioned:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. You'll need 16 oz of bourbon, 8 sugar cubes, and 16-24 dashes of Angostura bitters and some soda water.
  • Mix: Muddle the sugar cubes and bitters together with a splash of soda water in a large pitcher. Then add the bourbon, some ice and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour into individual ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses, garnish, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic whiskey substitute; some are available that mimic bourbon's caramel and vanilla notes.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use the non-alcoholic substitutes for the regular ingredients and follow the original steps.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
149
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.01
g
0
%
Sodium
 
1
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
3
g
1
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Potassium
 
1
mg
0
%
Calcium
 
0.1
mg
0
%
Iron
 
0.02
mg
0
%

 

Old Fashioned Cocktail Drink

Original Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Andrea Ottaiano Written by Andrea Ottaiano
Jump to Video
Sip your way into relaxation with this classic Old Fashioned recipe! Made with bourbon, bitters, and a hint of sweetness, this timeless cocktail adds elegance to any occasion.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 149

Ingredients
 

  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • 1 barspoon soda water
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange twist or cherry - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Muddler
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Place 1 sugar cube in the bottom of your Old Fashioned glass.
  • Add Bitters: Dash 2-3 dashes Angostura aromatic bittersover the sugar cube.
  • Add Soda Water: Measure and pour 1 barspoon soda water.
  • Muddle: Use a muddler to crush the sugar cube and mix it with the bitters.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 1 oz Bourbon into the glass.
  • Stir Gently: Stir the ingredients together using a bar spoon to mix them.
  • Add Ice & stir: Add some ice cubes and stir again for 20 revolutions.
  • Ice and pour: Fill your glass with ice cubes and pour 1 oz Bourbon.
  • Stir: Stir one more time for about 25 revolutions.
  • Garnish: Add an orange twist or a cherry for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: You can use rye whiskey for a spicier kick if you're out of bourbon. I've also tried using scotch for a smokier profile, and it's excellent!
  • Angostura Bitters: You can use orange bitters for a fruitier profile. I love how it slightly changes the flavor but maintains the drink's character.
  • Sugar Cube: I've used a teaspoon of simple syrup instead of a sugar cube in a pinch, which works fine.

Making a Pitcher of Old Fashioned:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. You'll need 16 oz of bourbon, 8 sugar cubes, and 16-24 dashes of Angostura bitters and some soda water.
  • Mix: Muddle the sugar cubes and bitters together with a splash of soda water in a large pitcher. Then add the bourbon, some ice and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour into individual ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses, garnish, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic whiskey substitute; some are available that mimic bourbon's caramel and vanilla notes.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use the non-alcoholic substitutes for the regular ingredients and follow the original steps.

 

What is an Old Fashioned?

An Old Fashioned is a classic whiskey cocktail that combines bitters, simple syrup, and a citrus garnish. Many consider it the original cocktail, setting the standard for mixed drinks everywhere. The name originates from patrons ordering their whiskey cocktails in the traditional, “old-fashioned” way. The International Bartender Association(IBA) officially appreciate the cocktail and lists it as one of “The Unforgettables”.

A side shot of an Old Fashioned cocktail in an old-fashioned glass on a coaster placed on a beige table with a bar spoon and an orange twist on the side.

What is an Old Fashioned made of – The ingredients

To get ready to mix your Old Fashioned, get these ingredients:

  • Bourbon: Provides the rich, smooth base that carries the cocktail.
  • Bitters: Adds complexity and balances the sweetness, usually Angostura.
  • Simple Syrup: Offers a touch of sweetness to contrast the bitterness.
  • Ice Cubes: Chill the drink without diluting it too much.
  • Orange Twist or Cherry: Serves as a garnish, adding a subtle hint of fruitiness.

Bourbon, simple syrup and Angostura laid out on a white bar table

How do you make an Old Fashioned?

Make your perfect Old Fashioned by following our easy instructions:

1
<p>Place a sugar cube at the bottom of your Old Fashioned glass.</p>

Place a sugar cube at the bottom of your Old Fashioned glass.

2
<p>Dash two to three dashes of Angostura bitters directly onto the sugar cube.</p>

Dash two to three dashes of Angostura bitters directly onto the sugar cube.

3
<p>Add a bar spoon of soda water.</p>

Add a bar spoon of soda water.

4
<p>Use a muddler to crush the sugar cube and mix it well with the bitters.</p>

Use a muddler to crush the sugar cube and mix it well with the bitters.

5
<p>Fill the glass with ice cubes to keep your drink chilled.</p>

Fill the glass with ice cubes to keep your drink chilled.

6
<p>Pour two ounces of bourbon over the ice, covering the muddled sugar and bitters.</p>

Pour two ounces of bourbon over the ice, covering the muddled sugar and bitters.

7
<p>Stir the ingredients gently using a bar spoon to combine them.</p>

Stir the ingredients gently using a bar spoon to combine them.

8
<p>Garnish by taking an orange peel and twisting it over the glass.</p>

Garnish by taking an orange peel and twisting it over the glass.

9
<p>Rub the orange twist over the rim of the glass.</p>

Rub the orange twist over the rim of the glass.

10
<p>Add the orange twist to the glass.</p>

Add the orange twist to the glass.

11
<p>Enjoy your Old Fashioned!</p>

Enjoy your Old Fashioned!

Best bitters for an Old-Fashioned

When nailing the perfect Old Fashioned, the bitters you choose can make or break the drink. Angostura bitters reign as the classic pick, offering a well-balanced blend of sweet and bitter notes that complement the whiskey. But don’t dismiss other contenders; Peychaud’s bitters bring an anise-forward profile that can add a unique twist, while Fee Brothers’ variety pack lets you experiment with flavors like cherry and orange. Bittermens Xocolatl Mole adds a hint of cocoa and spice for those craving a modern edge. Yet, if you’re sticking to the classics, you can’t go wrong with Angostura. It’s a crowd-pleaser that holds its own in the whiskey’s robust company.

Best whiskey for an Old-Fashioned (Bourbon or Rye whiskey)

Choosing the right whiskey for your Old Fashioned can be a game-changer. Bourbon is a popular pick, and brands like Buffalo Trace or Maker’s Mark offer a rich, smooth experience with just the right amount of sweetness. If you lean towards spicier notes, rye whiskey is your ally. Bulleit Rye or Knob Creek Rye stand out for their bold, peppery kick. But what if you want something versatile that ticks all the boxes? In that case, consider a well-rounded option like Woodford Reserve. Its balanced profile plays well with the bitters and sugar, making it a go-to for a consistently great cocktail.

Can you use simple syrup instead of sugar in Old Fashioned?

Switching out granulated sugar for simple syrup in an Old Fashioned is a savvy move. This liquid sweetener blends seamlessly into the drink, eliminating the hassle of stirring until sugar dissolves. Plus, it offers consistent sweetness from the first sip to the last. You might find several brands of simple syrup on the market, but they all serve the same purpose: to sweeten your cocktail easily. So swap that sugar cube for a dash of simple syrup and enjoy a fuss-free version of the drink.

What is the difference between Manhattan and a classic Old Fashioned?

Manhattan and Old Fashioned are whiskey-based classics but far from twins. The Old Fashioned is like whiskey in its Sunday best: it features whiskey, bitters, and a sugar cube, all stirred with ice and often garnished with an orange twist or cherry. It’s straightforward and lets the whiskey take center stage. On the other hand, the Manhattan elevates whiskey with sweet vermouth and bitters, shaken or stirred with ice and traditionally garnished with a maraschino cherry. The vermouth adds a herbal complexity, making the Manhattan more dressed up than its Old Fashioned counterpart. So, if you’re in the mood for something simple and robust, go for an Old Fashioned; but if you’re craving extra layers of flavor, a Manhattan might be your drink.

An Old Fashioned cocktail, shot from above, in an old-fashioned glass placed on a beige table with a bar spoon and an orange twist on the side, and surrounded by some brown sugar cubes

Different Old Fashioned variations

Did you get the urge to tweak the original? Have a look at our selection of variants:

  • Rye Old Fashioned: Rye whiskey replaces bourbon, bringing a spicier, bolder taste. I find the peppery flavor of rye invigorating, perfect for a brisk evening.
  • Maple Old Fashioned: Swapping simple syrup for maple syrup adds a natural, woody sweetness. This rustic, comforting choice suits autumn perfectly.
  • Tequila Old Fashioned: Bourbon gives way to tequila, adding a South-of-the-border flair. Herbal and citrus notes from the tequila make it refreshingly different.
  • Brandy Old Fashioned: Using brandy instead of whiskey, this drink takes on a rich, fruity profile. I love the depth and elegance the brandy adds, making it feel luxurious.
  • Chocolate Old Fashioned: Infused with chocolate bitters and garnished with chocolate, this drink offers a sweet, luxurious twist. It’s a perfect choice for satisfying sweet cravings.
  • Cherry Old Fashioned: Cherries infused in the whiskey lend a natural sweetness and tartness. The fruity undertone from the cherries harmonizes beautifully with the whiskey.
  • Ginger Old Fashioned: Ginger syrup replaces simple syrup, introducing a spicy kick and depth. The warmth and spice of ginger are perfect for a chilly night.
  • Black Walnut Old Fashioned: Rich, nutty undertones come from black walnut bitters. This nuttiness pairs superbly with whiskey, offering a sophisticated, earthy touch.
  • Cranberry Old Fashioned: A splash of cranberry juice adds a festive, tart twist. This makes it a holiday favorite, ideal for gatherings.
  • Coconut Old Fashioned: Coconut water or syrup adds a tropical note without overpowering the drink. The subtle coconut flavor complements the foundational flavors well.
  • Coffee Old Fashioned: Cold brew concentrate brings a caffeine kick and added complexity. As a coffee enthusiast, I appreciate the deepened flavor profile, making it robust and energizing.
  • Cinnamon Old Fashioned: Garnished with a cinnamon stick or bitters, this drink offers a warming sensation. The spice of cinnamon is comforting, perfect for cold weather.
  • Peach Old Fashioned: Fresh peach slices or bitters add a summery sweetness. The freshness and sweetness of the peach make this drink light and ideal for warm days.
  • Rum Old Fashioned: Rum takes the place of whiskey, adding a sugarcane-based sweetness and richness. The tropical essence of rum evokes sunny shores, making it a delightful escape.
  • Apple Cider Old Fashioned: Apple cider introduces a fruity, autumnal charm. Its crispness and subtle tartness blend perfectly, capturing the essence of fall.
  • Irish Whiskey Old Fashioned: Irish whiskey offers a smooth, mellow character. Its lighter, sweeter nature compared to traditional bourbon provides a pleasantly approachable experience.

A side shot of an Old Fashioned cocktail in an old-fashioned glass on a coaster placed on a beige table surrounded by some brown sugar cubes, a bar spoon and an orange twist

History and Origin

The Old Fashioned traces its roots back to the early 19th century, making it one of the oldest known cocktails. Initially, bartenders called it a “whiskey cocktail,” featuring only whiskey, water, sugar, and bitters. The cocktail gained fame in Louisville, Kentucky, before making its way to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, attracting a more upscale crowd.

The term “Old Fashioned” started to circulate as bartenders began adding newfangled ingredients like curaçao, absinthe, and other exotic garnishes to their cocktails. Patrons looking for the original mixture started ordering their drink made the “old-fashioned way,” meaning without the fancy additions. Over time, this led to the cocktail adopting the name.

 

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FAQ

How many calories are in an Old Fashioned?
An average version of the drink contains around 154-200 calories, depending on the specific ingredients used.
How strong is an Old Fashioned?
Typically, it has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of about 30-40%, largely influenced by the type of whiskey used.
What type of alcohol is used in an Old Fashioned?
Bourbon is the traditional choice, although rye whiskey is also commonly used.
In what kind of glass is an Old Fashioned served?
The drink is usually served in an Old Fashioned glass, a short, round tumbler.
What does an Old Fashioned taste like?
The taste is a complex balance of sweet, bitter, and strong flavors, dominated by the whiskey.
Why is it called an Old Fashioned?
The name comes from patrons ordering whiskey cocktails made the "old-fashioned way," meaning no exotic garnishes or additional liqueurs.
Is ice necessary for an Old Fashioned? 
Ice is crucial for chilling the drink, but it's essential not to over-dilute it.
Should I muddle the fruit in an Old Fashioned? 
Traditionally, you should avoid muddling the fruit to keep the focus on the whiskey.

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