It’s time you learned how to make an old fashioned. It’s easy, tasty, and would make Donny Drapes proud. In the end, this is a classic cocktail made of bitters, bourbon, sugar, and water.
Yet it’s often mediocre. Mostly due to corners being cut.
We’re not cutting corners today. There are no simple syrups in play. We’re mixing an old-school version of the drink with demerara sugar that’s stirred until it’s fully dissolved into the bitters and whiskey. This method takes a little longer, yes. But it provides a balance and depth that you’ll never get with a bar syrup.
That being said, this recipe is still pretty easy. It’s a build-in-the-glass cocktail, after all. You just need a spoon, glass, and pairing knife or fruit peeler (and a little patience). Let’s get mixing!
Classic Old Fashioned
- 3-oz. bourbon
- 1 barspoon demerara sugar
- 1 barspoon tap water
- 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Luxardo cherry
- Orange peel
I like to use a high-proof bourbon for my old fashioned. You don’t have to. Use what you have on hand and experiment. But a nice barrel-proof will hold onto the bolder notes of the whiskey as it mixes with the water, sugar, and bitters. In this case, I’m using Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, which has this nice, earthy berry patch note the works in this cocktail.
Lastly, you can also use raw or white sugar if that’s what you have on hand. I like to use demerara because it tends to dissolve more easily in booze and carries a bit more of a toffee note, thanks to the residual molasses leftover on the crystals. That note really marries with the bourbon nicely.
What You’ll Need:
- Rocks or old fashioned glass
- Cutting board
- Pairing knife or peeler
- Cocktail stick
- Add the sugar, water, and bitters to the glass and stir until the sugar starts to dissolve, creating a base (five to ten seconds).
- Add the bourbon and stir until the sugar is dissolved (30 to 60 seconds).
- Fill the glass with ice and stir until the glass is ice cold to touch (about 60 seconds).
- Top up the glass with ice.
- Spritz the orange oils from the peel onto the glass and rub them around the rim of the glass. Drop the peel in the cocktail.
- Spear one cherry and drop it in the glass.
Yeah, I’ve made a lot of these and they’re always pleasantly surprising. The Elijah Craig really stands out in the cocktail. You get that sense of green berry vines with hints of blueberry next to the herbal essence of the bitters and mellowing orange oils.
This sounds like it takes a long time with a lot of stirring and, I guess, it kind of does. But, we’re really only talking about two to three minutes max from start to finish. The result is a deeply satisfying old fashioned that’ll hold up as you sip at the layered notes of spice, herbs, orange, and bourbon.
Don’t forget to top it with fresh ice after the stir!