Old Fashioned Cocktail: The Tale of the Old But Gold



Table of Contents

    1. Old Fashioned with Fruit
    2. Quick Old Fashioned
    3. Spiced Orange Old Fashioned
    4. Wisconsin Style Old Fashioned
    5. Maple Rum Old Fashioned
    6. Summer Old fashioned
    7. Death & Co. Old Fashioned
    8. Gin Old Fashioned
    9. Jack & Coke Old Fashioned
    10. Maple Walnut Old Fashioned
    11. Oaxaca Old Fashioned
    12. Irish Old Fashioned
    13. Japanese Old Fashioned
    14. Spiced Rum Old Fashioned
    15. Chocolate Old Fashioned
    16. Persimmon Old Fashioned
    17. Smoked Cinnamon Old Fashioned



Who would’ve thought that a simple cocktail would be among the greatest cocktails throughout history? Despite its name, its popularity has not faded and it still remains a beloved cocktail today. This cocktail is none other than the Old Fashioned.

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Brief History

Around 1806, the first-ever recorded definition of “cocktail” states, “a mixture of spirit, water, bitters and sugar” in a newspaper from Hudson, New York called “The Balance and Columbian Repository. The definition fits the Old Fashioned and other variations. In the 1860s, more components were added to cocktails such as absinthe, Curacao, and other liqueurs. Despite the different concoctions sprouting, people never forgot the original or “old fashioned” way of the cocktail. 

In 1880, in Louisville, Kentucky, a master whiskey distiller by the name of James E. Pepper was given credit for the creation of the old fashioned cocktail. It was said that the drink was created by a bartender in his honor at a private social club called The Pendennis Club. Not long after, Pepper brought the recipe with him to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Bar still in New York City. It was at that moment that the recipe was stuck and its popularity grew and got featured in many recipe books.  

The original version made use of rye whiskey, bourbon or Irish whiskey, those that were available in America during the 19th century. Modifications then followed including brandy and the addition of citrus and cherry for added flavor and look.

 

Nutritional Guidelines per Serving

Serving Size:  2.5 fl. oz. 

Amount per Serving

Calories                                 174

                                                % Daily Value

Total fat                       0g                     0%

    Saturated Fat          0g                     0%

    Trans Fat                0g

Cholesterol                 0mg                  0%

Sodium                       390mg             17%

Total Carbohydrate     18 g                  6%

     Dietary Fiber          0.3g                  1%

     Sugars                   12g

Protein                        0g                               

Vitamin A                    0g                      0%

Vitamin C                    0g                      0%

Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

This cocktail seems simple but takes one sip and it will give you a burst of flavors. The sugar adds a bit of sweetness to round out the potent whiskey while the bitters make sure that the sweetness does not take over the drink. The bitters also go well with the citrus with its spicy notes. The original recipe also made use of water to dilute the drink because it was difficult to have ice back then. However, this recipe uses soda or seltzer water that surprisingly helps in binding all the components’ flavors. 

Tools to Make

  • Rocks glass - A short and wide glass, also called an old-fashioned glass.
  • Bar Spoon  - An elongated spoon used to mix drinks. It is equivalent to 1 teaspoon, making it a functional measuring tool. 
  • Jigger - An hourglass-shaped tool used to measure spirits and other liquid cocktail ingredients.
  • Paring Knife or Peeler - Used to cut or peel citrus rinds.
  • Muddler - used to press ingredients together so they get incorporated.  

Ingredients

Steps to Make

  1. Place the sugar cube in a rocks glass
  2. Add the Angostura bitters as well as the soda water to soften the sugar a bit. You can use the bar spoon to measure the soda water. Muddle these together. 
  3. Measure the bourbon with a jigger and pour it into the glass. 
  4. Place the big ice cube and stir the drink with the bar spoon. 
  5. Cut or peel a lemon and orange rind and spritz them into the drink and lightly run them on the rim of the glass and finally place them as a garnish. 

Recipe Variations

Even before the final recipe of the old fashioned spread, there have already been a lot of variations to this drink. And now, you get to know and experience some of them. The following variations will also include modern versions of the cocktail. 

Old Fashioned with Fruit

At one point in America, people were not interested in whiskey anymore because they preferred clear spirits, so they thought of adding more sweet and fruit components. This recipe probably came out in the Post-Prohibition era and it makes use of cherry and orange to be muddled together with the sugar and bitters. Some people do not like but perhaps you will. Try it now!


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Place the sugar cube, orange, and cherry in a rocks glass
  2. Add the bitters and soda water and muddle these together. 
  3. Measure the bourbon using a jigger and pour it into the glass. 
  4. Add ice cubes and stir the drink with a bar spoon
  5. Garnish with a cherry. 

Quick Old Fashioned

Normally, an Old Fashioned is made with a sugar cube that is muddled with the bitters but if you want to make this drink quicker, you can use sugar syrup instead. It dissolves faster and maintains the smoothness of the drink. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes. 
  2. Measure the bourbon with a jigger and pour it into the glass and add in the bitters and sugar syrup. 
  3. Mix the drink with a bar spoon. Garnish it with an orange twist. 

Spiced Orange Old Fashioned

Nowadays, there are many numerous ways to make an Old Fashioned and this is one of them. It has a minor tweak but it enhances the drink’s spice factor. The addition of orange bitters contributes a nice orange flavor and adds a delightful bitterness and spice flavors. Interested? Give it a try!


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. In a mixing glass, combine the rye whiskey, simple syrup and the two bitters. Make sure to measure the first two ingredients with a jigger and a bar spoon.
  2. Fill the mixing glass with ice cubes and stir with a bar spoon.
  3. Strain and pour the mixture into a chilled rocks glass filled with a fresh and big ice cube.
  4. Spritz the citrus peels into the drink to release their oils and place them as a garnish. 

Wisconsin Style Old Fashioned

Sometime in 1893, a new brandy distiller called “Korbel” from California was sampling their spirits at the Chicago World’s Fair. Not long after, they created an Old fashioned cocktail but in place of the whiskey, they used their brandy. The European audience, specifically German immigrants living in  Milwaukee applauded the drink. In the present, Wisconsin still remains the largest buyer of Korbel Brandy. When you go to any bar in Wisconsin, they will ask whether you like your Old Fashioned sweet or sour. If you like it sweet, they top the drink with Sprite and if you like it sour, they add Squirt. You can also do this when you’re making it on your own. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Place the orange wedge and cherry in a mixing glass. Add the bitters and simple syrup. Muddle these together. 
  2. Measure the brandy using a jigger and add it in the glass.
  3. Fill the glass with ice cubes, then stir with a bar spoon.
  4. Double strain the mixture with a Hawthorne strainer and fine mesh strainer into a rocks glass filled with a big ice cube.
  5. Spritz the orange peel and garnish the drink with it and a cherry. 

Maple Rum Old Fashioned 

Rum in an Old Fashioned adds a nice depth of flavor and the maple syrup is a terrific sweetener for it. Try this variant if you’re into rum. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make: 

  1. Combine the ingredients in a rocks glass and make sure they are measured with a jigger and a bar spoon
  2. Add ice cubes and stir with a bar spoon. 
  3. Garnish with an orange twist. 

Summer Old fashioned 

This recipe is somehow a combination of an Old Fashioned and an Inside Job. It makes use of strawberry-infused absinthe which is made by taking some sliced strawberries and pouring absinthe on them and letting this infuse for a week. It takes a long time to prepare but it’s worth it. 


Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Bulleit Rye Whiskey
  • ½ oz. Ilegal Mezcal
  • ¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • ½ tsp. Strawberry-infused Absinthe
  • 1 tsp. Monin Simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes and 1 big ice cube
  • Dehydrated strawberries and fresh basil leaves (for garnish)

Steps to Make:

  1. Measure the spirits and syrup with a jigger and teaspoon and combine them in a mixing glass.
  2. Add the bitters and ice cubes. Stir with a bar spoon
  3. Strain and pour the drink into a rocks glass.
  4. Grind the dehydrated strawberries using a mortar and pestle and dust it on a big cube using a fine mesh strainer.
  5. Carefully place the ice cube into the rocks glass. Garnish with basil leaves. 

Death & Co. Old Fashioned 

The Death and Company is a famous cocktail bar in Manhattan, New York, specifically in the East Village and is known to serve modern cocktails. This is their version of the Old Fashioned. Will it be just as good as the original recipe? Try it and find out. 


Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Elijah Craig Bourbon
  • 1 dash Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • 1 bar spoon Demerara Gum Syrup
  • Lemon and Orange Twist (for garnish)
  • 1 big Ice cube

Steps to Make:

  1. Measure the bourbon with a jigger and pour it into a rocks glass
  2. Add the bitters and gum syrup. Place the ice cube in and stir with a bar spoon.
  3. Spritz the citrus peels into the drink and use it as a garnish. 

Gin Old Fashioned 

During the Prohibition, a gin variation on the Old Fashioned was featured in Jerry Thomas’ book, “Jerry Thomas’ Bartender Guide: How to Mix Drinks ” and it was named Old Fashioned Holland Gin Cocktail. The recipe called for a lump of sugar added with a little bit of water and a few dashes of Angostura bitters, along with a lemon peel and an ounce of Holland gin, then stirred. You can follow this recipe or the one below which also has a twist of its own. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Place a cloth napkin on top of a chilled rocks glass. On the napkin, place the sugar cube and add the Spanish bitters on it, letting the cloth soak the excess, then drop the soaked sugar cube in the glass. 
  2. Add the Cointreau in the glass and muddle them. 
  3. Measure the gin with a jigger and pour it onto the glass. Add ice cubes and stir with a bar spoon.
  4. Garnish with a lavender sprig and lemon twist. 

Jack & Coke Old Fashioned

This variation is an original made by Leandro DiMonriva, a bartender who runs a YouTube channel “The Educated Barfly”. It makes use of a Mexican coke reduction which you can make by simmering Mexican coke in a pan until it reduces and becomes a syrup. He describes this drink as strong, sweet and overall incredible, and with this, he might be onto something. 


Ingredients:

  • ¼ oz. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
  • ¼ oz. Fernet Branca
  • ½ oz. Mexican Coke reduction
  • 1.5 oz. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
  • 1 big ice cube 
  • Orange twist (for garnish)

 Steps to Make:

  1. Measure the ingredients with a jigger and combine them in a rocks glass
  2. Add the ice cube and stir with a bar spoon
  3. Spritz the orange peel and garnish the drink with it.

Maple Walnut Old Fashioned 

Maple syrup in an Old Fashioned? Why not?  Its sweetness goes really well with the nutty and rich flavor that the black walnut bitters bring and the whiskey completes the trio. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Measure the whiskey with a jigger and pour it into a mixing glass. 
  2. Add the bitters and the maple syrup.
  3. Fill the glass with ice cubes and stir it with a bar spoon
  4. Strain and pour the mixture into a rocks glass with a big ice cube. 
  5. Spritz the orange peel and run it around the rim then place it as a garnish. 

Oaxaca Old Fashioned 

This drink was created by a bartender at Death & Co. New York bar named Phil Ward in 2007 and it is a perfect variation for National Tequila Day. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Measure the spirits with a jigger and pour them into a rocks glass.
  2. Add the bitters and agave. Place the ice cube in and stir with a  bar spoon
  3. Spritz an orange peel and garnish. 

Irish Old Fashioned 

Invented by Jack McGarry, the co-founder of the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York City, this variation is a great Irish twist on a classic that is perfect for St.Patrick’s Day or anytime you like. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Measure the whiskey and Benedictine with a jigger and pour them into a mixing glass. 
  2. Add the two bitters and ice cubes. Stir with a bar spoon
  3. Strain and pour the drink into a chilled rocks glass with a big ice cube. 
  4. Spritz the orange peel, rub it on the rim and drop it as a garnish. 

Japanese Old Fashioned

Expand your cocktail knowledge and taste by trying the Japanese version of the Old Fashioned. This was created by none other than bartending master, Kazuo Uyeda, the man who wrote the book “Cocktail Techniques” and who single-handedly created the hard shake technique. The hallmark of this drink is its less sweet taste and the trio of citrus wheels that you can adjust according to your preference.


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Place the sugar cube in a rocks glass and add the bitters and soda water. Muddle these together. 
  2. Measure the whiskey with a jigger and add it into the glass. Stir with a bar spoon
  3. Garnish with the citrus wheels and serve it with a little spoon. 

Spiced Rum Old Fashioned 

People like rum so a rum Old Fashioned is a great variation. To kick things up a bit, use spiced rum as this will mingle with the bitters quite well. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Place the sugar cube in a mixing glass Add the two bitters and muddle them. 
  2. Measure the two rums with a jigger and pour them into the glass. Add ice cubes and stir with a bar spoon
  3. Strain and pour the mixture into a rocks glass and add a big ice cube.
  4. Garnish with an orange peel after spritzing it into the cocktail. 

Chocolate Old Fashioned 

Bourbon and chocolate is a great pairing so it makes sense to combine the two in one drink. Give this a try now!


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Measure the ingredients with a jigger and a bar spoon and pour them in a rocks glass. Add the bitters and the ice cube.
  2. Stir with a bar spoon. 
  3. Garnish with cherries. 

Persimmon Old Fashioned 

If you’re an adventurous person and you like to try new news, then have a go at this Persimmon Old fashioned. Persimmon is a delightfully sweet and honey-like fruit and we’ll let you be the judge whether it works in the cocktail. 


Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Bulleit Bourbon 
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Cranberry Bitters
  • 2 slices Persimmon 
  • 1 tsp. Demerara sugar 
  • Ice cubes
  • Persimmon slice and cranberries (for garnish)

Steps to Make: 

  1. Place the sugar, persimmon slices and cranberry bitters in a rocks glass. Muddle these together. 
  2. Measure the bourbon with a jigger and add it into the glass. Add ice cubes then stir with a bar spoon
  3. Garnish with a persimmon slice and cranberries. 

Smoked Cinnamon Old Fashioned 

Cinnamon is an awesome spice with a great smell and it will contribute much to a classic Old Fashioned. This recipe has a fun way of whipping up this drink and it tastes good too. 


Ingredients:

Steps to Make:

  1. Light the cinnamon sticks with a match or a lighter and cover it with a rocks glass to trap the smoke inside. Let this rest for 3 minutes. Afterwards, turn the glass upright. 
  2. Measure the bourbon and simple syrup with a jigger and pour them into the prepared rocks glass. 
  3. Add the bitters and ice cubes. Stir with a bar spoon
  4. Garnish with an orange peel and cinnamon sticks. 

Food Pairings

An Old Fashioned cocktail is simply bourbon that is sweetened and spiced. Having bourbon or whiskey as the base spirit, this drink is suitable to pair with protein dishes such as pork and chicken. But it also goes great with light dishes with huge flavors. You can try the following foods below to make and have alongside an Old Fashioned cocktail.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Chops


Two kinds of pork combined in one, these bacon-wrapped pork chops are any meat lovers’ dream. The cocktail can cut its fattiness and at the same time compliments it greatly. It is a simple recipe so you can make it anytime you want. 

Honey BBQ Chicken Wings


You can never go wrong with a good chicken wing. It is sweet and savory and absolutely fun to make. Serve it with ranch dip and celery sticks and you got yourself a delicious meal. 

Apricot and Almond Cake


Almonds are a great food pairing to bourbon. Sure, you can just open a bag of almonds and nibble on them while sipping an Old Fashioned. But, if you want to do something special with it, you can whip up this delicious apricot and almond cake. Its fruit component complements the drink’s fruit component as well, should you add orange or cherries to it. 

Lobster Bisque


Treat yourself with a creamy, flavorful and fresh lobster bisque. It is packed with lobster flavor and a rich tomato base soup. Overall, it is slightly sweet, succulent, and can definitely be a great partner with an Old Fashioned. 

Pimiento Cheese Deviled Eggs


Easy to make, wonderful to see and delightful to eat. Elevate your regular hard-boiled eggs and turn it into something flavorful. The spice from the pimiento goes great with the delicate cheese along with the other amazing components. 

Sweet Potato Pie


If you love soul food, then you have to try a lovely sweet potato pie. Having a  great crispy crust filled with a delicious, sweet potato pie filling with just the right sweetness and spice is a great way to spend a wonderful afternoon with an equally amazing cocktail by your side.  

FAQs

How strong is the Old Fashioned?

One serving of an Old Fashioned cocktail would yield about 32 percent Alcohol by Volume (ABV) if an 80-proof whiskey is used, making it among the strongest cocktails. 

Why is it called Old Fashioned? 

Before it was officially named the Old Fashioned cocktail, it was known as the “whiskey cocktail”, taking into account the definition of “cocktail” back in the days and the fact that it was made from whiskey. When people started to incorporate other ingredients in cocktails, people opted for the “old-fashioned” way, which was the 4-ingredient whiskey cocktail. Since then, the whiskey cocktail went by the name Old Fashioned to commemorate the original way of cocktails.

What state is the old fashioned a signature drink?

In 2015, the city of Louisville in Kentucky declared the Old Fashioned its official drink which makes sense since the Old Fashioned was created in this very state. Wisconsin has their own version of Old Fashioned wherein they use brandy instead of whiskey and it is their official drink. Other states that consider the Old Fashioned their most famous drink include Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington DC. 

What is the best whiskey for Old fashioned? 

The cocktail can be made either with Rye whiskey, bourbon, and other types of whiskeys. The most prominent ones include Bulleit, Rittenhouse, Jim Beam, Sazerac Rye, and Four Roses. If you have a favorite whiskey that’s not on the list, give it a try. 

What is the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan?

A Manhattan is pretty much like an Old Fashioned but the sugar is replaced with a sweet vermouth. It is made with rye whiskey as opposed to the Old Fashioned which can also be made with bourbon. A Manhattan is commonly served in a coupe glass with a Maraschino garnish whereas an Old Fashioned is served in a rocks glass with an orange peel, and sometimes a cherry garnish. 

Is Angostura bitters the same as Orange bitters?

Angostura is a brand of bitters. The commonly termed “Angostura Bitters” is actually aromatic bitters. As the name suggests, it mainly provides aroma as well as spice to a drink. Orange bitters are somewhat like this but with an orange flavor. 

Conclusion

The Old Fashioned has come a long way and it will go on for more years to come. This drink is proof that overcomplicating things doesn’t make them last long, rather simplicity and character are just what they need to continue. If you like cocktails like the Old Fashioned, then you should try the Vieux Carre, another spectacular and classic cocktail. And you can learn to properly stir drinks in this article

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