One of the first-ever cocktails, the Old Fashioned has been around since Tchaikovsky was writing the Nutcracker Suite. And, surprisingly, it hasn’t changed all that much. For a proper Old Fashioned, you just need three ingredients: sugar, bourbon, and Angostura bitters. If you don’t have Angostura bitters, you can find them at a lot of grocery and liquor stores, and if you need some whiskey, check out this guide to 5 Great Bourbons For An Old Fashioned. As for your garnish, an orange twist is preferable - but maybe you only have a lemon or a grapefruit. Honestly, use whatever.
Makes 1 Old Fashioned
- 2 ounces Whiskey
- 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
- .5 ounce simple syrup
- Orange twist
Step 1: Simple Syrup
Some people make Old Fashioneds with sugar cubes or plain white sugar. But we use simple syrup because A) it’s easier to measure and B) it mixes effortlessly into a cocktail. To make some, take equal parts white sugar and warm water, then stir until the sugar is dissolved. That’s it. Add .5 ounce simple syrup to a mixing glass.
You can also make your simple syrup with Demerara sugar if you want to add a little more depth - or, if you’d like to see how a little maple syrup can transform a cocktail, try our Maple Old Fashioned.
Step 2: Bitters
Next, add a few dashes of bitters. If you aren’t sure what constitutes a dash, don’t overthink it. Just turn your bitters bottle upside down, give it a swift jerk downward, and you should get a small puddle of bitters. That’s a dash. We like to use 4 dashes, but you can use anywhere from 2-6 dashes, depending on how bitter you want your drink.
Step 3: Bourbon
Bourbon is the traditional choice for an Old Fashioned, and that’s what we’re going to use here - but you can also do anything from scotch and rye to rum and mezcal. Add 2 ounces bourbon to your mixing glass.
Step 3: Stir
Finally, add 5 or 6 ice cubes, and stir for 20 seconds. You can also build your Old Fashioned directly in a rocks glass, but stirring separately in a mixing glass will result in a slightly better drink. (And we’re always in favor of slightly better drinks.)
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Finally, strain your cocktail into a rocks glass filled with ice (preferably one large cube), and garnish with an orange twist. The twist should have a minimal amount of that bitter white pith on the underside, and it should be about the size of a stick of Juicy Fruit. Give it a gentle squeeze over your cocktail, run it around the rim, then just stick it in your drink. That’s a great-looking Old Fashioned.