The Ultimate Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

PREP TIME 5 min

Cocktail Type

Bourbon

Great for

Dinner Party

Difficulty

Easy

JUMP TO RECIPE
Top view of rich Old Fashioned Cocktails with Orange peel garnish

As far as classic cocktails go, the Old Fashioned cocktail is probably one of the most famous ones out there. This is a cocktail for whiskey lovers, and you can make it with your favorite bourbon or rye whiskey. It’s safe to say that even if you have no cocktail knowledge, you would at least have heard of the famous Old Fashioned cocktail at some point in your life. It belongs in the cocktail hall of fame along with some of the best whiskey cocktails like the Manhattan, Whiskey Sours and Irish Coffee.  

What is an Old Fashioned?

As is often the case, there are many claims as to where the Old Fashioned cocktail originated. One of the more famous stories is that it was created at a gentleman’s club in Louisville, Kentucky, in the late 1800s.  

Over the years, Old Fashioned cocktail ingredients haven’t changed much. You still only need bourbon, sugar, bitters, and water to create this iconic amber-colored drink. Back in those days, bartenders didn’t have all the mod cons they do today, so learning to how to make an Old Fashioned was really quite simple—and still is.   

How to make the best Old Fashioned cocktail

When you hear the name Old Fashioned cocktail, it might conjure up images of leather armchairs, smoky gentlemen’s clubs, and scenes from the popular TV drama, Mad Men 

While we can’t cast you in Mad Men, we can do the next best thing: give you the right mix of Old Fashioned cocktail ingredients so that you can serve this iconic American drink at your next dinner party.  

An Old Fashioned drink recipe calls for either rye whisky or bourbon. We chose Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon Whisky for its high rye content and bold signature Wild Turkey spice and orange peel flavor. It is as classic as this cocktail. 

For the perfect serve, garnish with either an orange twist or maraschino cherries—or both. To make the orange twist, hold the peel over the cocktail and give it a good twist to express all those aromatic citrus oils straight into the drink. For extra orange flavor, rub the orange peel along the rim of the glass before popping it into your Old Fashioned cocktail 

QUICK TIPS

01

Squeeze the orange peel over the cocktail first to release its oils, then drop it into the drink

02

For the most Insta-worthy Old Fashioneds, use cocktail cherries and orange peel twists as garnish.

03

For a more citrus-infused sip, run the orange peel along the rim of the glass before dropping it into the cocktail.

04

Love the taste of bitters? Then add more to your Old Fashioned until it tastes just the way you like it.

INGREDIENTS

MAKE FOR

1 Person

2 Oz

60 Ml

2 Parts

Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon Whiskey
0.75 Oz

22.5 Ml

0.75 Parts

Simple syrup
A few dashes aromatic bitters
Orange peel or maraschino cherries, to garnish 
Ice 

INSTRUCTIONS

Poster Preview Image
01

Add the bourbon, simple syrup and bitters to a large mixing glass along with a few ice cubes

02

Stir the Old Fashioned cocktail ingredients until properly chilled (about 30 seconds)

03

Strain into a tumbler over ice

04

Garnish with orange peel or cherries and enjoy

Old Fashioned cocktail variations

This cocktail has a long history so, unsurprisingly, there are plenty of Old Fashioned cocktail variations that you can play around with: 

  • For a taste of warm apple pie, swap out the bourbon for gin, infuse the simple syrup with cinnamon, and use apple-flavored aromatic bitters.  
  • Brandy lovers can make a Brandy Old Fashioned by simply swapping out the bourbon with brandy. 
  • Tequila fans can make a Reposado Old Fashioned and it’s a whole different creation, using reposado tequila, nectarine slices, agave syrup, Bing cherries and bitters. 
  • For something completely different, coffeeholics can create a Coffee Old Fashioned with creme de cacao, espresso, simple syrup and bitters. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

You can use either, but if you’re going to use a sugar cube, dissolve it in a splash of water before adding it to your Old Fashioned cocktail.  

This is the perfect drink to serve either before or after dinner, and also makes a great cocktail for a wedding party. Served classically in a tumbler glass, this sweet amber drink always looks – and tastes - impressive. Whiskey lovers might opt for this cocktail as a nightcap to end the night (a cozy armchair and fireplace are optional extras!) but we think it’s classic enough to serve whatever your occasion. 

When America’s cocktail scene started to really take off in the 1880s, bar menus started to evolve as bartenders began mixing up new and exciting cocktails to impress the masses. Legend has it that there were some sentimental drinkers missing how things used to be back in the good old days and so they used to order a drink made the old-fashioned way, and it was here that the Old Fashioned Cocktail was born. 

A Manhattan cocktail is made with sweet vermouth instead of simple syrup and is strained straight into a glass, while an Old Fashioned cocktail is served on the rocks. A Manhattan is also much less sweet, with a bitter profile and herbal undertones, so opt for this if you like a stronger cocktail. 

An Old Fashioned is as strong as a straight drink of bourbon or whiskey. At an alcohol level of 32% ABV, these should be enjoyed slowly. For a slightly lighter drink, add a splash of soda water.