Old Fashioned Recipe - How to Make This Timeless Classic

The Old Fashioned is more than just another cocktail; it's a timeless classic. Tracing its history back to the 19th century it is a drink that continues to charm its way through generations of cocktail enthusiasts and casual drinkers.

In my journey of exploring classic cocktails, the Old Fashioned has always held a special place. It's like a warm, familiar friend, welcoming you with its rich, comforting embrace. It's fascinating to see how this simple concoction of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters has captivated hearts for well over a century.

Follow our classic Old Fashioned recipe to learn how to make this revered cocktail to a standard that would have even the most seasoned of bartenders nodding in approval.

Old Fashioned cocktail on a rustic brown table, garnished with a cherry and orange twist

Old Fashioned Ingredients

2 oz Whiskey: Choose a high-quality bourbon or rye whiskey, which will be the base of your cocktail. The whiskey's flavor profile is crucial as it dominates the drink.

Sugar: A small sugar cube or a teaspoon of granulated sugar to add sweetness.

3 Dashes Angostura Bitters: Don’t overdo this - just a few dashes for a complex, herbal flavor that balances the sweetness of the sugar.

1 Teaspoon Water: Just a splash to help dissolve the sugar and meld the flavors together.

Ice: Large ice cubes are preferred as they melt slowly, preventing the drink from becoming too diluted.

Orange Twist: A piece of orange peel for garnish, adding a citrus aroma and a hint of zest.

Optional Garnishes: Some people like to add a maraschino cherry or a lemon twist for an additional garnish.

How to Make an Old Fashioned: Crafting the Classic

Making an Old Fashioned is fairly straightforward but, like any classic recipe, it's all about the details. Here's a step-by-step guide to crafting this iconic drink:

1. Place a sugar cube (or a teaspoon of sugar) in an Old Fashioned glass and saturate it with three dashes of Angostura bitters.

2. Add a splash of water and muddle these ingredients together until the sugar is nearly dissolved.

3. Fill the glass with large ice cubes and pour in the whiskey.

4. Stir gently to combine the flavors and chill the drink.

5. Garnish with an orange twist, expressing the oils over the glass.

Remember, the key is to balance the sweetness, bitters, and alcohol to your taste preference. You can up the sweetness or adjust the amount of bitters you use to suit your taste.

Mixology Tip: Expressing the Orange Peel

The orange peel used to garnish your Old Fashioned has oils in which, when expressed properly, lend a distinctive citrus aroma to your drink. To express these oils first hold the peel over your glass and pinch the two sides together, releasing the orange oils into your glass. Wipe the peel around the rim of your glass before twisting it and dropping it as a garnish into your Old Fashioned.

Variations of Old Fashioned: Twisting the Tradition

The art of mixology is all about experimentation and there have been some pretty interesting twists on the traditional Old Fashioned recipe over the years. Some popular ones include:

Smoked Old Fashioned: Adding a smoky flavor using a smoking gun or by flaming a piece of wood. The smoke really accentuates the taste of the whiskey and makes for a more playful cocktail.

Maple Old Fashioned: Substituting sugar with maple syrup for a richer, more autumnal flavor.

Fruit-infused Old Fashioned: Muddling in fruits like cherries or berries for a fruity twist.

These variations keep the essence of the original while introducing new flavors and experiences.

Close up of an Old Fashioned cocktail with a cherry garnish and ice cubes in the drink, on a black background.

Other Cocktails Similar to an Old Fashioned

If you’re partial to an Old Fashioned, there are several other cocktails that might also tantalize your tastebuds.

The Manhattan shares a similar whiskey base but introduces sweet vermouth and a cherry garnish. The Whiskey Sour, on the other hand, adds lemon juice and sugar to whiskey, creating a delightful balance of sweet and sour. These cocktails, like the Old Fashioned, are steeped in history and offer a window into the rich tapestry of classic mixology.

Bar Tools Needed to Make an Old Fashioned

While the ingredients are important, having the right bar tools is key to crafting the perfect Old Fashioned. A muddler is essential for dissolving the sugar and releasing the bitters' flavors. You’ll need a bar spoon for stirring all the delicious flavors together, ensuring a smooth, well-chilled drink without diluting it too much (please don’t shake your Old Fashioned!)

You can pick up all these tools at a homeware store or get a purpose made bar kit which should have all the cocktail making accessories you need.

In terms of glassware this cocktail is more forgiving than some others - you can serve it in an Old Fashioned glass or a rocks glass which are both the same shape but vary in size. You can even serve it in a highball glass if need be.

Cheers to and Age Old Tradition!

In the end, making an Old Fashioned is about more than just mixing ingredients. It's about honoring a tradition, a history, and a culture that has been savored over countless evenings throughout the decades. Whether you're a seasoned aficionado or new to the world of cocktails, mastering the Old Fashioned recipe is a without a doubt a journey worth taking. So, here's to that timeless classic – may it bring you lots of happy, and tasty, memories.

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