After hundreds of Old Fashioned recipes tested by our expert team, we chose the best Old Fashioned recipe of 2021! Learn how to make in 3 easy steps! The Old Fashioned is a cocktail that's been around for a while, and for good reason. The sweetness makes it smoother than a lot of other whiskey-based drinks, though it remains a strong-jawed, spirit-forward option. Fortunately, with few ingredients, it's also an easy cocktail to master.
Here’s what you need to do an Old Fashioned recipe, beyond what you might be able to dig out of the fridge or cupboard.
Old Fashioned Ingredients
- 1⁄2 tsp Sugar
- 3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 tsp Water
- 2 oz Bourbon
Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Wet it down with Angostura bitters and water. Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler, then rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining.
Stir until sugar is nearly dissolved.
Fill the glass with large ice cubes, add the bourbon, and gently stir to combine the flavors. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.
Squeeze orange peel over glass to extract oils. Hold a piece of orange peel between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze over the glass to release the oil.
Garnish with the orange peel and a single cherry. Serve with a stirring rod if you're so inclined. Stir just until drink is cold and alcoholic bite has softened.
How To Make Old Fashioned - #1 Step
How To Make Old Fashioned - #2 Step
How To Make Old Fashioned - #3 Step
Old Fashioned Nutrition Facts
The Best Old Fashioned Recipe 2021
This is the best Old Fashioned recipe of all time! This Old Fashioned recipe mix whiskey, sugar, bitters, and water—is quite literally the classic cocktail that started it all. It was that particular Old Fashioned recipe that appeared alongside the first-ever printed use of the word “cocktail” way back in 1806. Since those sepia-toned days, the Old Fashioned has enjoyed illustrious comebacks as new generations of boozers have fallen for its simple charm. Old Fashioned is a light, refreshing tasting, yet complex combination of Bulleit Bourbon, sugar and bitters.
The Old Fashioned is also one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. The first use of the name "Old Fashioned" for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail was said to have been at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen's club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky.
These Old Fashioned cocktail recipes are literally for cocktails done the old-fashioned way. The differences of the Old Fashioned cocktail recipes from the cocktail recipes of the late 19th Century are mainly preparation method, the use of sugar and water in lieu of simple or gomme syrup, and the absence of additional liqueurs.
The beauty of the Old Fashioned recipe is that nearly any spirit can be used as the core as long as the other ingredients support and accent that spirit.
Old Fashioned Recipe Tips
The best bourbon for an Old Fashioned is a highly personal decision. The classic Old Fashioned cocktail features little more than whiskey, sugar, and bitters. Start by using good bourbon, the rule being that if you wouldn’t sip it by itself it has no place at the helm of a Old Fashioned recipe.
There are other whiskey drinks for masking subpar booze—this isn’t one of them. From there, the cocktail-minded seem to break into two camps: simple syrup or muddled sugar. While a barspoon of syrup can cut your prep time in half, it robs the drink of some of the weight and texture that makes it so appealing.
You do not have to hurry. The Old Fashioned recipe isn’t going anywhere. The Old Fashioned is one of six root cocktails upon which all mixology is built, according to the Cocktail Codex, a book from the legendary Death & Co bar team. That doesn't mean you can't get funky with it. Swap your bourbon or rye for rum or mezcal—or both, like this recipe calls for. Gin is another option. For those less inclined to live on the edge, an Irish whiskey Old Fashioned could do the trick.
If you want a more intense orange flavor for this Old Fashioned recipe, use orange bitters, or muddle 2 thin orange wedges with the sugar, then strain into a rocks glass and proceed as written. Toasted sugar tastes less sweet than plain, and can add a subtle note of caramel to play off the bourbon or rye.
Honey, maple syrup, molasses or other strongly-flavored sweeteners do not belong in an Old Fashioned, which is not to say you cannot or should not create nice variations on the Old Fashioned with them. There exists a venerable tradition of sweetening the Old Fashioned with crystalized sugar or a sugar cube.
Aromatic bitters don’t make a drink taste bitter. Rather, they bind the flavors of the drink and contribute botanicals that make the Old Fashioned a genuine aperitif cocktail. When getting started with the Old Fashioned, you should always use Angostura bitters. Angostura bitters is the ubiquitous benchmark aromatic bitters and always the default choice when no brand is specified. You can also combine bitters.
For example, when putting bourbon in my Old Fashioned, I sometimes like to use one dash of Angostura bitters and one dash of orange bitters. Just make sure a little bitters gets in the drink, or it’s not an Old Fashioned.
If you put ice in your Old Fashioned, you have a finite amount of time to slurp it down before it becomes a watery mess. The time you have depends on the quality of your ice and the proof of your spirit. Omitting ice means you can nurse the drink all day, should you wish to. The Old Fashioned without ice is a more contemplative Old Fashioned.
Old Fashioned Origin
The Old Fashioned is a cocktail made by muddling sugar with bitters, then adding alcohol, popularly whiskey but sometimes brandy and finally a twist of citrus rind. It is traditionally served in a short, round, tumbler-like glass, which is called an Old Fashioned glass, after the drink. The Old Fashioned is one of the most venerable of cocktails, predating not only the motorcar but the presidency of Abe Lincoln.
Some people say that the Old Fashioned is one of the first cocktails ever created. You could draw a straight line connecting this Old Fashioned recipe to the first recorded definition of the cocktail category in general (circa 1806), which calls for spirits, sugar, water and bitters.
The name “Old Fashioned” started getting tossed around in bars to describe said cocktail recipe. Our guess is human beings will be drinking Old Fashioneds until end times, because the damned drink will never not be cool. Common garnishes for an Old Fashioned include an orange slice or a maraschino cherry or both, although these modifications came around 1930, some time after the original recipe was invented.
The Old Fashioned is the cocktail of choice of Don Draper, the lead character on the Mad Men television series, set in the 1960s. In the television series Grey's Anatomy, in the fourth episode of the ninth season, Dr. Christina Yang and Dr. Thomas order two Old Fashioned in a bar after duty hours at The Clinic. In the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love, the Old Fashioned is the preferred cocktail of pickup artist Jacob Palmer, and he is shown drinking it both in the bar and at home.
With its conception rooted in the city's history, in 2015 the city of Louisville named the Old Fashioned as its official cocktail. Each year, during the first two weeks of June, Louisville celebrates "Old Fashioned Fortnight" which encompasses bourbon events, cocktail specials and National Bourbon Day.