A Good Old Fashioned Old Fashioned

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Muddle until the sugar has dissolved as much as possible.

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Measure and add your bourbon (or rye; see below).

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I like to stir a little without the ice cube and then for 15-20 seconds once I've added the ice cube.

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Use an orange peel as garnish with bourbon and a lemon peel with rye.

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The classic Old Fashioned cocktail. There are many variations, including spicy and smoky versions.

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Angostura bitters should be a staple on any man's bar cart.

An Old Fashioned cocktail is perfectly simple and simply perfect.

In the realm of classic cocktails, the venerable Old Fashioned stands alone. Simple – it only requires a few ingredients – slightly sweet and absurdly easy to make, it’s a true gentleman’s drink. Here’s how we make ours here at HSS.

Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

2 oz. Bourbon
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Sugar cube

Place a sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Soak with the bitters. Muddle until the sugar dissolves. Add the bourbon and stir a bit to mix. Add a large ice cube and stir for 15-20 seconds. Garnish with an orange peel.

how to make an old fashioned cocktail

I usually build my drinks in a mixing glass, but I like to make my Old Fashioned in the glass I’m drinking it in.

What’s the history of the Old Fashioned?

We’re going to defer to David Wondrich on this one. If you are seriously into cocktails, Imbibe is a must-read.

Can I use rye instead of bourbon?

Absolutely. The spirit you choose is completely dependent on your preference and I’m not going to be the elitist who turns my nose up and says you’re wrong if you don’t make yours in such and such a way. This is conceivably why you like us here at HSS…

However, if you do use rye, I recommend garnishing with a lemon peel instead of an orange peel. Why? Lemon plays better with rye and orange plays better with bourbon.

how to make an old fashioned cocktail

When Don Draper made an Old Fashioned in Mad Men, he muddled fruit too. Is that wrong?

If you happen to be a cocktail purist, then yes, that was wrong. But, again, there are many ways to make an Old Fashioned. If a man wants his to be sweeter, then he should muddle fruit – I like an orange wedge and a maraschino cherry – dammit.

What are some other good Old Fashioned variations?

Man, there are so many! And the beautiful thing is that every bartender has his or her own take. If there happens to be an Old Fashioned variation on any reputable classic/craft cocktail menu, you’d better believe I’m going to give it a try. A couple have been featured on the site:

A SPICY VARIATION: The Oaxacan Old Fashioned

A SMOKY VARIATION: The Hickory Old Fashioned

If you’re a cocktail buff, chances are you’ve got your own take on the Old Fashioned. So, do us a solid and chime in below with your favorite way to make this classic.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Photography by Robin West


Chime In

  • Tim
  • http://www.thekentuckygent.com Josh @ The Kentucky Gent

    Can’t go wrong with a good old fashioned!

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Indeed not!

  • Jon

    I love a great Old Fashioned, and am happy that you left it pure here. A little tip that I enjoy, rub the rim of your glass with your orange peel before dropping it in the glass.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Good tip and one I always use. Cheers, Jon!

  • Famespear

    I prefer mine with Jameson Irish whiskey. Just much smoother than boubon or rye.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Never heard of an Irish whiskey Old Fashioned! It’s great for a hot toddy or whiskey skin.

  • Gregor

    I’m a Sunday mixologist, which is to say, I pride myself on craft, enthusiasm and passion but don’t make a living at it. That being said, I believe Rye mixes well, exceedingly well, with the ingredients of most any dark cocktail. And, by extension my fruit of choice is the orange. Why? Rye is light and spicy and the spicy notes pair well with orange. Think about some varieties and flavors of tea. When making an Old Fashioned I like to use a Blood Orange. Slice the orange in half and from one side of the half slice a .25″ piece. Lay it flat at the bottom of the glass, muddle it with bitters and sugar. Add a king cube on top, properly squared and upright. Pour 2.5 ounces of Rye over the top.

    Keep stirring.
    Now sit and enjoy.

    A good cocktail is like a long time friend, conversation is not a prerequisite, depth and understanding comes from time shared.