Oaky and sweet, with a hint of citrus on the finish, the classic whiskey Old Fashioned is truly a bourbon lover's drink. You only need a few ingredients to make this classic cocktail—sugar, bitters, and a large ice cube—so you’ve really got to make them count. Read on for our top tips to making your Old Fashioned the best it can be:
Why is it called an Old Fashioned?
As the story goes, as mixologists began getting more creative with their whiskey cocktails near the turn of the 19th century, bar patrons who were anti-innovation could order their drinks “old-fashioned,” meaning without any extra bells and whistles. To do the same, you’re going to want to use the best bourbon you can find. This is no time to use the random bottle of whiskey someone left at your house; instead, use one you’d be happy to drink straight after a long day.
What’s the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan?While these two whiskey cocktails are very similar, they diverge in what is used to sweeten them. Whereas a Manhattan uses sweet vermouth, an Old Fashioned typically uses straight sugar (in our case, a demerara sugar cube).
Sugar cube or simple syrup?
For this recipe, we went with a cube of demerara sugar (similar to turbinado sugar). Because it’s less processed than white sugar, it maintains a hint of molasses that pairs well with the vanilla and caramelly notes of the bourbon. The sugar is muddled in the glass with the bitters and a splash of water to create a paste before adding the ice cube and bourbon. If you don't have sugar cubes or you're pressed for time, you can swap the sugar cube for a bar spoon (~1 tablespoon) of simple syrup. Whichever you choose, don’t skip the bitters. They provide a hit of herby, spicy warmth that round out and complete the cocktail.
What’s the secret to the best Old Fashioned?Beyond your bourbon, your sugar, and your bitters, there’s one more ingredient that will make your Old Fashioned the best it can be: ice! Since a single large cube of ice has less surface area than a lot of small cubes, the ice will melt more slowly, making sure your drink isn't watered down too fast. To finish off the drink, we like to add a maraschino cherry and an orange peel garnish, but feel free to omit them if you’re a purist.
Made this? Let us know how it went in the comments below.
Yields: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
cube demerara sugar
dashes Angostura bitters
large ice cube
Orange peel and maraschino cherry, for serving
In a rocks glass, muddle demerara sugar, water, and bitters until sugar is dissolved. Add ice cube and pour bourbon over. Stir until chilled. Garnish with orange peel and maraschino cherry.