Known as one of the simplest cocktails to make, yet one of the hardest to perfect, we’ve made, tested and enjoyed countless old fashioned recipes and we’ve summed up our favourite ones here.
When you talk about cocktails specifically whiskey based ones it’s hard not to automatically think of the old fashioned, it’s one of the go-to cocktails for people who love whiskey but also just for generally cocktail lovers. Not only does it taste fantastic but it’s relatively easy to make requiring only a few ingredients meaning it’s accessible to many. Plus it has a long history and has been loved by people for more than 200 years.
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The recipes for an old fashioned cocktail normally consist of these ingredients:
Many people opt for a bourbon however most bartenders will use a rye whisky because it’s more traditional, less sweet and has a slightly sharper taste to it. Which one you use is down to personal taste but if opting for a rye we recommend going for something with a high proof range for better flavours such as Wild Turkey. We personally love a bourbon and have found Buffalo Trace to be our ‘go to’ bourbon for this cocktail.
Theres two options here, either use a sugar syrup or simply sugar itself, we have both at hand but whichever you have is one you should go for. Which sugar to use for an old fashioned is often debated but you can use caster, demerara or any other sugar you have access to (the less processed the better, and we tend to go for brown or demerara).
We recommend you use Angostura bitters, it’s a versatile bitters that can be used in many different drinks and works fantastic with this one, but if you have others, play around with them and see what you like.
This cocktail is an ‘on the rocks’ type drink and so ice is a vital part of it, we recommend the use of large ice rather than smaller as it melts slower and cools the drink down without diluting it too quickly.
Orange Peel Garnish
No need to put any actuall fruit in except for a slide or two of orange peel, twisted to express some oils into the drink.
How to make an old fashioned
There are numerous variations on how to make an old fashioned cocktail but essentially they mainly contain whiskey/bourbon, sugar, ice/water and bitters. We’ve found our favourites and here they are:
The Classic Recipe
- 50 ml of Whiskey or Bourbon
- 1 cube or teaspoon of sugar (demerara works best)
- 2-3 dashes of angostura bitters
- 1 twist of orange peel to garnish
1. Place the sugar and bitters into a rocks glass (chilled) and muddle together until mixed, feel free to add a dash of water to help it mix.
2. Once mixed add some of the whisky and a few ice cubes and stir for 15-20 seconds to bring the alcohol down to a good temperate and to start the ice melting. Keep adding a little more whisky, then a little more ice, and continue to stir. You might want to sip a little as you go and stop stirring when you feel it’s diluted to your tastes.
3. Garnish with a twist of orange peel (twist the peel over the glass so the peel expresses its oils)
4. Enjoy your old fashioned!
Don’t have all the ingridents or want to try variations as well? Why not head over and buy our old fashion cocktail kit with everything you need to make it delivered to your door!
If you want to mix it up you can try using different whiskeys or bourbons and each will make the drink taste slightly different. Keep all the other proportions the same though. So if you prefer a slightly stronger whiskey taste opt for a slightly strong (higher proof) rye whiskey or if you prefer the sweeter taste then opt for a bourbon, which often has sweet elements to it.
Bourbon Old Fashioned Recipe
The classic recipe can easily be made using bourbon however the below recipe is a slight mix on it and makes for an equally lovely cocktail to drink. This recipe was made popular by Don Draper on the TV show “Mad Men”, so we sometimes refer to it as the “Don Draper Old Fashioned” or the “American-style Old Fashioned” instead.
Awesome photo from Gimmesomeoven
- 50 ml of Bourbon
- 1 cube or teaspoon of sugar (demerara works best)
- 3-4 dashes of angostura bitters
- 1 wheel of Orange & 1 Maraschino cherry
- 1 dash of club soda
1. In a chilled glass, muddle together the sugar, bitters, wheel of orange, cherry and a dash of soda for 20-30 seconds
2. Take out the orange wheel and fill the glass with large ice cubes and your favourite bourbon
3. Garnish with a new orange wheel or peel and a Maraschino cherry. Optionally add a spritz of soda water if you want more dilution.
4. Enjoy your old fashioned cocktail!
Check out this great video from our friends at Shoreditch Shaken, and how they make the classic Old Fashioned:
The history of the old fashioned
One of the oldest cocktails around you’ll find the first printed mention of it in 1806 however as with many drinks the official creator is quite a mystery. According to some the old fashioned was created by James. E. Pepper who was a bartender at a social club in Louisville, Kentucky. Throughout the 1800’s and into the 1900’s there were many mentions of the old fashioned recipes in books including in the 1895 ‘Modern American Drinks’ book written by G. Kappeler in which the classic recipe above is found.
Going into the 1930’s and in 1936 it was mentioned in a New York Times article how during prohibition many bartenders would make a glass with sugars, bitters and ice and pass to patrons who would then add their own illegal spirits into the glass and enjoy.
Later on many bartenders and bars tried variations on the drink, adding additional spirits, many customers weren’t too impressed and simply wanted it the ‘Old Fashioned’ way.
Make your own Old Fashioneds at home
If you want to make a great Old Fashioned at home, without having to buy full-sized bottles of all the ingredients, check out our Old Fashioned cocktail kit. It makes up to 6 drinks, and also teaches you how to make a Sazerac, another absolute classic!