An Old Fashioned is a smooth bourbon drink mixed with bitters and sugar.
My boyfriend Aaron loves a good old fashioned, a smooth bourbon drink mixed with bitters and a cube of sugar. The classic cocktail also makes me think of Mad Men where they would be drinking it practically in every scene. That 60’s ad life.
Aaron decided that he was going to master the drink so he watched a bunch of his favorite bartenders make their version of an old fashioned and then came up with his recipe. This version is liquor-forward and not as sweet, focusing on the flavor of the bourbon rather than the sugar and bitters. An old fashioned is served with a single large ice cube to keep from watering the drink down.
Demerara sugar cube – Demerara sugar also known as turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw adds a touch of sweetness to balance this spirit heavy cocktail. The cubes are great because they are pre-portioned. One sugar cube is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of demerara sugar. I like using simple syrup because you don’t need to muddle or stir much for the sugar to dissolve.
Bitters – Bitters are a concentrated spirit infused with botanicals to add flavor to cocktails, in this case an Old Fashioned. This recipe uses angostura bitters for a classic old fashioned cocktail though you can mix and match a combination of combination of angostura, orange bitters and chocolate bitters for a unique combination.
Bourbon – Bourbon is a type of American whiskey made primarily from distilled corn. Not all whiskey is bourbon but all bourbon is whiskey. While both rye and bourbon can be used in this recipe, I prefer to use bourbon.
Ice – The mixture is first chilled in a glass with regular ice then poured over a single, large old fashioned ice cube. A single large ice cube is used so the cocktail doesn’t get watered down as quickly. I like this spherical mold found here.
How to Make an Old Fashioned
Stir ingredients. Add the sugar (or simply syrup), bitters and bourbon to a large glass or beaker and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Stir with ice to chill. Add ice and continue to stir for a 10 seconds to throughly chill the cocktail.
Strain into a glass. Strain the mixture over a fresh, large ice cube in an old fashioned low-ball glass.
Garnish with an orange peel and serve.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
If opting to use a combination of bitters, I recommend using 3 dash angostura bitters, 1 dash orange bitters and 1 dash chocolate bitters.
The bourbon can be substitute for rye whiskey based on preference. Rye has a distinct spicier flavor than bourbon.
While I simply garnish with orange peels, the cocktail is often garnished with a maraschino cherry as well.
For a unique twist, you can use a smoking gun to trap smoke under the glass before filling it to add a smokey flavor.
Favorite Bourbon Brands
Because this cocktail focuses so much on the flavor of the bourbon, I recommend opting for a high quality liquor. High end doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a ton of money. I’m sharing a few of my favorite brands below: