A classic cocktail, this Old Fashioned Recipe is made with quality bourbon, Angostura bitters, orange peel, and sugar. Simple and sophisticated, this bourbon cocktail is perfect for serving at dinner parties or sipping on in the evening.
This is a great before dinner drink that pairs well with bacon wrapped dates or an after dinner drink with a slice of chocolate pie.
A Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe
I’m usually the first to reach for the fruity cocktails, but I can appreciate some Bourbon in Mint Juleps every year for the Derby and also in this drink – sip on an Old Fashioned and you’ll instantly feel sophisticated. If you’re not used to drinking bourbon, start slow with this cocktail and enjoy it just a bit at a time.
This bourbon cocktail is a nice one for small dinner parties and also a great drink for relaxing in the evening. Or anytime you need something strong and not too sweet.
What Is An Old Fashioned?
An Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail made with bourbon, sugar, bitters, orange peel, and a cherry. It’s considered the oldest cocktail around and was the first alcoholic drink on the International Bartenders Association list of drinks. The “official” recipe for an Old Fashioned is a sugar cube, bourbon or rye whiskey, water, Angostura bitters, and an orange peel.
There are various stories as to why it’s called the Old Fashioned but the most likely was simply customers asking for a drink “the old fashioned way” as more and more cocktails became popular.
Old Fashioned Ingredients
Old Fashioned ingredients are simple – sugar, bitters, orange, and bourbon.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Sugar cube – If you don’t have sugar cubes, you can use 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and muddle it with the bitters and water. You can also use 1 teaspoon of simple syrup in place of both the sugar cube/granulated sugar and water.
- Angostura bitters – Angostura bitters are classic Old Fashioned bitters, with a bitter, spicy flavor and hints of cloves and cinnamon.
- Bourbon – See below for notes on the best bourbon to use for an old fashioned.
- Orange peel – This adds a distinct taste and aroma to the drink. Don’t skip it.
- Maraschino cherry – For garnish.
What’s The Best Bourbon to Use?
The best bourbon for an Old Fashioned cocktail is a good bourbon such as Jim Beam, Four Roses, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace. No cheap bourbons for this cocktail! The bourbon provides the majority of the flavor to this cocktail so you should use one that you enjoy drinking. You can also use rye whiskey if you prefer.
As with all things that have been around for a while, there have been many variations or twists made on this classic cocktail. Here are a few of them:
- Wisconsin Old Fashioned. Instead of whiskey, use brandy and add a splash of lemon-lime soda.
- Oaxaca Old Fashioned. A classic cocktail with a Mexican twist! Use tequila and mezcal in place of the bourbon and some agave nector as the sweetener.
- Smoked Old Fashioned. While you do need some special equipment to make this at home, the smoked Old Fashioned quickly became a hit in bars. It adds a smoky depth that makes the taste even more sophisticated.
- Maple Old Fashioned. Swap out the sugar cube for some real maple syrup to make a Maple Old Fashioned.
- Rum Old Fashioned. If rum is your preference, simply swap the bourbon for your favorite dark rum.
- Speciality Liquor Old Fashioned. You may see a theme above of simply swapping the bourbon for another alcohol. You can also do this with speciality liquors, like Jagermeister, Fireball, Skrewball, or any other drink you prefer.
How to Make An Old Fashioned
This Old Fashioned recipe requires just 2 easy steps. Just muddle the bitters and sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients.
- Muddle. Muddle the sugar, bitters, and water in the bottom of a the glass until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Add bourbon. Pour the bourbon over ice.
- Add the orange. Squeeze the orange peel then drop it into the glass. Add a maraschino cherry if desired.
Tips for the Best Cocktail
If you’ve never made an Old Fashioned drink, here are a few tips to make it perfectly the first time.
- Use the full piece of orange zest. You want to use a full piece of orange zest, removing as much of the pith as possible using a pairing knife. This will make it easier to express the oils and not leave a bitter taste from the pith.
- Sugar cube replacements. If you don’t have sugar cubes, you can use 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and muddle it with the bitters and water. You can also use 1 teaspoon of simple syrup in place of both the sugar cube/granulated sugar and water.
- Use clear ice. For the prettest and classiest presentation, use clear ice in your drink.
How To Serve It
Old Fashioneds are typically served in a lowball glass. Enjoy immediately. I like to garnish mine with a cherry and also add an orange wheel or wedge directly to the glass. This bourbon cocktail is meant to be sipped slowly and enjoyed as the ice melts.
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Old Fashioned Cocktail
- 1 sugar cube
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 ounces bourbon
- large piece of orange peel
- maraschino cherry, for garnish
- Place a sugar cube, the bitters, and water into the bottom of an old fashioned or small glass. Muddle until the sugar is mostly dissolved – this may take a minute or two.
- Add ice to the glass.
- Pour the bourbon over the ice and gently stir.
- Gently squeeze the orange peel to express the orange oils and drop it into the glass along with a maraschino cherry.
- Sip slowly and enjoy!