Let’s get real: there’s no wrong time of year to drink an old fashioned. June, July, August — even the dog days of summer can’t scare us away from this combination of whiskey (rye or bourbon, depending on your taste), muddled sugar, and Angostura bitters. That said, fall might very well be the best time to sip this classic cocktail. The flavors in play just seem to fit nicely with apple harvest, longer nights, and a fire crackling in the hearth.
Around these parts, we prefer our old fashioneds with a spicy rye kick, but we’ll take them any which way our favorite bartenders mix them up. We love seeing adaptations with walnut bitters, bacon, and other smoky, fall flavors. The joy of this drink is its permutability… as long as you start with a good whiskey.
To make sure your old fashioned whiskey picks are on point, we asked 15 our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to bottles for mixing this iconic drink.
Noble Oak Bourbon
Alli Torres, bartender at Refinery Rooftop in New York City
I’m loving Noble Oak right now. They age it for a year in American White Oak and finish it with sherry staves. They use pressure and heat to mimic the seasons and plant a tree for every bottle. Personally, I love a bit of a spicier old fashioned so matching the sherry notes with Angostura really delivers some great flavor.
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Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-bond 100 proof. I like a rye whiskey and picked this up at the @summertonclub Whisky Festival. In true Whisky Shared style, I opened this at the event and shared it with whisky friends. It's not too spicy on the finish and needs very little water to be enjoyed. It also has a great mouth feel. . . . #whiskyshared #whiskey #whisky #rye #ryewhiskey #ryewhisky #rittenhouserye #bottledinbond #summertonwhiskyclub #summertonwhiskyfestival #100proof
Gabrielle Ricord, bartender at Outpost in Goleta, California
The whiskey I like to put in old fashioned’s is definitely Rittenhouse Rye. It is the star of the show, a touch earthy, nice and spicy, and is delicious with the herbal component of Angostura bitters. I like to use Rittenhouse in many different cocktails, but even with it’s higher proof I love it in a good ol’ old fashioned.
New York Ragtime Rye
Jenghis Manning-Pettit, lead bartender at B&O American Brasserie in Baltimore
My whiskey of choice for an old fashioned is New York Distilling Company’s Ragtime Rye. It’s affordable and has a great balance of smoothness and spice that I really admire in a rye. Muted vanilla and cacao notes border on nutty (specifically hazelnut), but the rye spice brings things back into focus.