The Best Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

The Best and Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Let's take a trip back to the late 1800s, to the heart of Bourbon country, where the Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail made its debut at the Pendennis Club of Louisville, Kentucky. This is where the magic began.

Fast forward to today, and the Old Fashioned has evolved into a diverse family of cocktails. There are countless modern interpretations and inventive methods. In fact, there's no longer just one "right" way to enjoy it.

Visit any craft bar, and you'll likely find they've crafted their own specialty version, boasting house-made twists and innovative additions. The Classic Old Fashioned often takes a backseat on the menu, patiently waiting for those in the know to request it. It's a testament to the cocktail's enduring allure and the ever-creative spirit of mixology. Cheers to the timeless and the avant-garde!


1 raw sugar cube (or 2 tsp raw sugar, or Β½ oz of demerara simple syrup)
2 Β½ - 3 oz Bourbon (variations mentioned below)Β 
ΒΌ to Β½ tsp Cocktail Bitters
1 orange slice
1 lemon strip lemon zest
1-3 good quality Maraschino cherry (ies)Β 

Orange slice
1-3 Maraschino Cherry(ies)

1 large circle or square

Chilled Old Fashioned / Rocks Glass

Instructions with Panache:
Here's how to craft this iconic concoction:

  1. Drop that sugar cube with an air of confidence into the glass. Drench it with bitters, letting the flavors mingle in anticipation.

  2. Next, add a twist of lemon zest, a seductive slice of orange, and a single, sultry Maraschino cherry. Time to get muddling. Start with a firm, long press to unleash those citrus oils. Then, quick, shorter presses to tease out the orange and cherry's secrets.

  3. Toss in the large ice cube with a nonchalant flourish. Now, pour in the Bourbon and give it all a little stir. The drama is building.

  4. Garnish with another slice of orange and, if you dare, another tempting cherry (or a few). Make it unforgettable.

Easy Variations for the Rebellious Mixologist:

Don't be shy to replace Bourbon with your spirit of choice: Rye, Blended Scotch, aged Rum, Tequila, or even aged Gin. It's your playground.

And, if you're feeling adventurous, whip up your very own demerara simple syrup. One part sugar, one part water, and a clean pot. Heat gently, dissolve the sugar completely, cool, and bottle it. It's your secret weapon.

To kick it up a notch, add cinnamon, orange zest, or a vanilla bean to infuse your syrup with captivating flavors.

A Word on Bitters: Let's Break Tradition!

Traditionally, Angostura is the old-school go-to, thanks to Prohibition's shadow. But hey, it's time to break free from that dated thinking.

The world of bitters is vast, and your cocktail deserves to flaunt its unique personality. Experiment, and let your inner flavor maverick shine through!

Suggested Bitters for Your Old Fashioned Adventure:

  • Chocolate Bitters: Elevate those inherent "chocolatey" notes in your spirits to new heights.

  • Orange Bitters: Magnify the zest of fresh oranges.

  • Banana Bitters: For Bourbon's banana undertones, or to add a tropical twist in a Rum Old Fashioned.

  • Toasted Oak: Spray it on for an oaky embrace.

  • Tamarind Lime Chili Bitters: Perfect for a Tequila Old Fashioned with a fiery twist.

  • Mix and Match: Get creative with combinations like Chocolate & Orange – it's your stage, and you're the star.

Original Recipe courtesy of "The Ultimate Bar Book" by Mittie Hellmich.