The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest and most popular cocktails in the world. It is a simple yet sophisticated drink that showcases the flavor and complexity of whiskey. In this post, you will learn how to make an Old Fashioned, what are the best ingredients to use, and some tips and tricks to master this timeless cocktail.

    What is an old-fashioned?

    How to Make an Old Fashioned

    An Old Fashioned is a whiskey-based cocktail that consists of three main ingredients: whiskey, sugar, and bitters. The name “Old Fashioned” comes from the way the drink was originally made in the 19th century, when it was simply called a “whiskey cocktail”. Back then, a cocktail was defined as a mixture of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. As cocktails became more elaborate and varied over time, some people preferred to order their drinks the “old-fashioned way”, hence the name.

    The Old Fashioned is widely considered to be the first cocktail ever invented, and it has a rich and fascinating history. According to legend, the drink was created in 1881 at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky, by a bartender named James E. Pepper. He allegedly mixed the drink for a local bourbon distiller named Colonel James E. Pepper, who then brought the recipe to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, where it became famous.

    However, there is evidence that the Old Fashioned existed before 1881, as there are references to similar drinks in earlier publications, such as Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide of 1862 and The Chicago Daily Tribune of 1874. Regardless of its exact origin, the Old Fashioned has remained a staple of American culture and a symbol of elegance and sophistication.

    What are the best ingredients for an old-fashioned?

    The beauty of the Old Fashioned lies in its simplicity and versatility. You only need three basic ingredients to make it, but you can also customize it to your personal taste and preference. Here are the best ingredients for an Old Fashioned and some suggestions on how to choose them:



    The most important ingredient of the Old Fashioned is the whiskey, as it determines the overall flavor and character of the drink. You can use any type of whiskey you like, but the most common and traditional choices are bourbon and rye. Bourbon is sweeter and smoother, while rye is spicier and drier. You can also experiment with other whiskeys, such as Scotch, Irish, Canadian, or Japanese, as long as they are not too peaty or smoky. The quality of the whiskey matters, so choose a decent bottle that you would enjoy drinking on its own. A good rule of thumb is to use a whiskey that is at least 80 proof (40% ABV) and aged for at least four years.


    The second ingredient of the Old Fashioned is the sugar, which adds a touch of sweetness and balance to the drink. You can use either a sugar cube or simple syrup, depending on your preference and convenience. A sugar cube is more traditional and authentic, but it requires more muddling and stirring to dissolve. A simple syrup is easier and faster to use, but it can dilute the drink more. You can also use other sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar, to add some variety and complexity to your Old Fashioned. The amount of sugar you use depends on your taste and the sweetness of your whiskey, but a general guideline is to use about 1/4 ounce (7 ml) of simple syrup or one sugar cube per drink.


    old-fashioned recipe

    The third and final ingredient of the Old Fashioned is the bitters, which add some depth and aroma to the drink. Bitters are alcoholic extracts of herbs, spices, fruits, and flowers that enhance the flavor and balance of cocktails. The most common and classic bitters for an Old Fashioned are Angostura bitters, which have a distinctive spicy and bitter taste. You can also use other bitters, such as orange, chocolate, or walnut, to add some different notes and nuances to your Old Fashioned. The amount of bitters you use depends on your taste and the strength of your bitters, but a general guideline is to use about two to three dashes per drink.

    How to Make an Old Fashioned: Step by Step

    Now that you have your ingredients ready, it’s time to make your Old Fashioned. You will need a mixing glass, a bar spoon, a strainer, a rocks glass, some ice cubes, and a garnish of your choice. Here are the step by step instructions on how to make an Old Fashioned:

    1. Add the sugar or simple syrup to the mixing glass. If you are using a sugar cube, add a splash of water and muddle it with the back of the bar spoon until it dissolves.
    2. Add the bitters to the mixing glass and stir to combine with the sugar.
    3. Add the whiskey to the mixing glass and fill it with ice cubes. Stir with the bar spoon for about 10 to 15 seconds, or until the drink is well chilled and diluted.
    4. Strain the drink into a rocks glass over a large ice cube or some fresh ice cubes.
    5. Garnish the drink with an orange peel and a cherry, if desired. To express the orange peel, twist it over the drink to release its oils, then rub it around the rim of the glass and drop it in. To add the cherry, use a cocktail pick or a skewer and place it on top of the drink.
    6. Enjoy your Old Fashioned and sip it slowly and savouringly.

    Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Old Fashioned

    Making an Old Fashioned is not hard, but it does require some attention and care. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the best Old Fashioned possible:

    • Use a good quality whiskey that you like and enjoy. Don’t skimp on the whiskey, as it is the star of the show. You can use bourbon or rye, or any other whiskey that suits your taste and mood.
    • Use fresh and clean ice cubes that are not too small or too large. Small ice cubes will melt faster and dilute the drink more, while large ice cubes will chill the drink less and make it harder to stir. You can also use a single large ice cube or an ice sphere, which will melt slower and look more elegant.
    • Stir the drink gently and patiently, but not too long or too short. Stirring the drink helps to chill and dilute it, as well as to mix the ingredients together. You want to stir the drink until it is cold and smooth, but not too watery or weak. A good way to tell when the drink is ready is to taste it with a straw or a spoon and adjust it to your liking.
    • Garnish the drink with an orange peel and a cherry, but don’t overdo it. The garnish adds some color and aroma to the drink, but it should not overpower or interfere with the flavor of the whiskey. Use a fresh and organic orange peel and a high-quality cherry, such as a Luxardo or an Amarena cherry. Avoid using artificial or neon-colored cherries, as they are full of chemicals and dyes. You can also skip the cherry altogether if you prefer a more minimalist and traditional style.
    • Experiment with different variations and flavors, but don’t stray too far from the original recipe. The Old Fashioned is a versatile and adaptable cocktail that can be tweaked and modified to suit your taste and preference. You can use different types of whiskey, sugar, bitters, and garnishes, as long as you keep the basic proportions and ingredients intact. You can also add some other elements, such as a splash of soda water, a slice of lemon, or a dash of liqueur, to create some interesting and fun variations. However, don’t go too crazy or too far from the classic recipe, as you might end up with a completely different drink that is not an Old Fashioned anymore.

    The Old Fashioned is a classic and timeless cocktail that deserves a place in your repertoire and your glass. It is a simple and elegant drink that showcases the flavor and complexity of whiskey. It is also a versatile and adaptable drink that can be customized to your taste and preference. By following the steps and tips in this post, you can learn how to make an Old Fashioned and enjoy this wonderful cocktail at home or at a bar. Cheers!

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