The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (2024)

How to make the best old fashioned co*cktail.In our recipe below, we share our favorite recipe for an Old Fashioned at home and a few of our twists to change it up.

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The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (1)

To make a classic old fashioned, you will place all the ingredients (whiskey or other liquor, sugar, and bitters) into a glass. Stir a few times, and then add ice. We like giant ice cubes or ice spheres. See my tips below for making them yourself. Tips for choosing the best alcohol for this recipe are below!

If you love whiskey co*cktails, you might also enjoy our Manhattan co*cktail. We make it with bourbon. Like this old-fashioned recipe, it only calls for three main ingredients.

The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (2)

Old Fashioned Ingredients

A classic Old Fashioned co*cktail calls for rye whiskey or bourbon.We like to stick with reliable, mid-range bottles. Four Roses is a fantastic everyday choice, especially for the price. Bulleit is popular, too (we’ve got their 10-year rye right now). Our friends rave about Woodford Reserve Double Oaked if you want something special. Of course, the world of whiskey is vast, so if you have a favorite, let us know in the comments!

Don’t limit yourself to just whiskey and bourbon. Gin, brandy, and rum also work in this classic co*cktail. We have a soft spot for dark, aged rum. If you see us sipping an old fashioned co*cktail, I’ll have one made with bourbon while Adam goes for the dark rum.

The best old fashioned recipes call for sugar to balance the alcohol.I use simple syrup, which quickly dissolves and is simple to make. It also allows us to play around and use brown sugar instead of white sugar for the syrup, giving our co*cktail a caramel-like flavor that works well with whiskey or rum.

The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (3)

We use two or three dashes of Angostura bitters, which are sold in most liquor stores. A well-stocked store or a quick online search will give you a world of options for more varieties of of bitters.

I also add some fruit. The amount of fruit in an Old Fashioned depends on who’s making it. We’ve seen everything from a handful of muddled oranges and cherries to nothing at all! When I make them, I stick with a piece of orange peel (blood orange is excellent) and a cherry or two.

The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (4)

Try a flaming orange peel!Take a coin-sized slice of orange peel (leave some white pith for easier squeezing), squeeze it between your fingers, and light a match next to it (be careful!). The oils will ignite in a quick flash. Hold it close to, or over, your glass to infuse some toasted orange aroma. We don’t add the peel, but a quick rub of the flamed peel on the glass rim is a nice touch. (Check out our video above to see how we do it.)

Making Clear Ice Cubes for Your Old Fashioned co*cktail

Adam’s gone full-on ice nerd since we’ve been making old fashioned co*cktails at home. Regular ice cubes no longer cut it (although I’m not here to shame you into not using them)! Cloudy ice melts fast and breaks apart, which waters down your drink. Clear ice looks way cooler and keeps your co*cktail strong.

The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (5)

We love giant ice spheres, but they’re tricky to freeze clear. There are fancy gadgets, but we found an excellent DIY method. Our tap water freezes clear with this technique, but depending on where you live, you might need to use filtered or boiled water.

Here’s the trick (or watch our video):

  1. Nest a small container inside an insulated mug. We used a small Rubbermaid container and an inexpensive mug found online.
  2. Fill the mug with water, making sure it covers the small container.
  3. Fill your sphere mold with water, then plug the hole with your finger.
  4. Flip the mold upside-down and carefully submerge it in the mug.
  5. Lower the water level in the mug until it’s even with the top of the small container.
  6. Freeze it solid!
The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (6)

Adam’s holding our DIY (almost) clear ice ball on the left in the photo above. The one on the right is a regular frozen mold—way cloudier! It did melt slower than regular ice, as seen in our Old Fashioned photo below.

The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (7)

The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail




  • PREP

The Old Fashioned is a simple classic co*cktail with just three main ingredients. This also leaves plenty of room for your own creative twists! While bourbon or rye whiskey are traditional, don’t be afraid to experiment. Gin, brandy, and rum all shine in this co*cktail. We especially love the depth and richness that a dark, aged rum brings to the party.

Makes 1 Drink

You Will Need

1 to 2 teaspoons simple syrup, see how to make simple syrup

3 dashes bitters, Angostura is great and readily available

2 ounces mid-range bourbon or rye whiskey

One 2-inch piece of orange peel, optional

1 to 2 maraschino cherries, optional


    1Combine simple syrup, bitters, and whiskey in an Old Fashioned glass. Stir well.

    2Add 1 to 2 large ice cubes and stir a few more times to chill.

    3Garnish with an orange peel and cherry.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Simple syrup: Here is our easy tutorial for making it at home. It can be stored in the fridge for about one month.
  • Adding water: Some people add a splash of soda or still water to their Old Fashioned co*cktails. We suggest tasting the drink before adding any water and going from there.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.

Nutrition Per Serving Calories 166 / Protein 0 g / Carbohydrate 7 g / Dietary Fiber 0 g / Total Sugars 6 g / Total Fat 0 g / Saturated Fat 0 g / Cholesterol 0 mg

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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The Best Old Fashioned co*cktail (2024)


What is the best alcohol to make an Old Fashioned with? ›

With that said, bourbon is often the go-to whiskey choice for an Old Fashioned. The relatively heavy body of the mostly corn-based spirit creates structure within the co*cktail, and its natural sweetness helps counterbalance the more astringent elements of bitters.

Is bourbon or whiskey better for Old Fashioned? ›

Bourbon or rye whiskey

Consequently, some traditionalists insist an Old-Fashioned should be made with rye, but bourbon is equally correct and the choice of whiskey should be entirely up to the personal taste of the drinker. Bourbon makes a mellow, slightly sweeter drink, while rye adds more spice and kick.

Is Maker's Mark good for an Old Fashioned? ›

Sweet and strong with touches of citrus, the Old Fashioned never really gets old, especially when it's made with Maker's Mark®.

What was in the original Old Fashioned? ›

The first whiskey old fashioned recipe was printed in 1895 in Modern American Drinks by George Kappeler. His recipe instructs the reader to dissolve a lump of sugar in water, add two dashes of bitters, a piece of ice, lemon-peel and one jigger whiskey.

How healthy is an Old Fashioned? ›

There are few drinks manlier than an Old Fashioned. But the simple syrup in this staple (as well as co*cktails like a Whiskey Sour) isn't so simple, nutritionally speaking. “Just 1-ounce packs in over 5 teaspoons of added sugar,” Holthaus says. “And a 6-ounce Old Fashioned will cost you around 260 calories.”

Is Crown Royal good for an Old Fashioned? ›

I focused my tasting on American whiskeys, stressing a balance between familiar bottles and less-famous ones that are well worth space on your shelf, though there are any number of fantastic rye-forward Canadian whiskeys that make great Old Fashioned co*cktails, such as Crown Royal and Alberta Premium.

What are the best bitters for an Old Fashioned? ›

When it comes to choosing the best bitters for your Old Fashioned, one name stands out above the rest – Bablouie Bitters. Renowned for their exceptional quality and unparalleled flavor profiles, Bablouie Bitters is the preferred choice of top bartenders and co*cktail aficionados worldwide.

What kind of bitters for Old Fashioned? ›

Angostura is an aromatic bitters, but lean heavily toward cloves and dried cherries. I crafted our Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters (the name kind of says it all) to be what I thought were the perfect bitters for an Old Fashioned. Ours lean more on cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg with only a touch of cloves.

What's the smoothest sipping bourbon? ›

Four of the Smoothest Bourbon Picks
  • 1) Boone County Distilling 12 Year Single Barrel ~ $79.99. @northern_bourbon's Pick | Boone County Eighteen 33 Straight Bourbon Whiskey. ...
  • 2) Old Forester 1920 ~ $59.99. ...
  • 3) Elmer T. Lee ~ $54.99. ...
  • 4) Wild Turkey 17 Year Master's Keep - ~ $149.99.

What is the best bourbon in the world? ›

Named the World's Best Bourbon, 1792 12-Year-Old is a bottle that you need to pick up. Produced by the Barton 1792 Distillery that operates out of the bourbon hotspot of Bardstown, Kentucky, it is yet another award winner from the almost century and a half of distillery.

Is an Old Fashioned better with bourbon or rye? ›

What would you usually prefer for your classic old-fashioned? A mellow, sweeter drink or something that is spicier, drier, and adds kick? If you prefer the first option, then Bourbon is definitely the right choice for you, while if you prefer the latter, then Rye whiskey is the way to go!

What can you substitute for whiskey in an Old Fashioned? ›

Reach for an aged rum or even gin. Or add a mix of tequila and mezcal. And use whichever bitters you have: Angostura, orange or otherwise. Needless to say, a rye old-fashioned and a rum old-fashioned taste quite different, but both work.

What kind of brandy is best for an Old Fashioned? ›

That's because the Brandy Old Fashioned is the (un)official co*cktail of Wisconsin. Nationally, Old Fashioneds are typically made with rye or bourbon whiskey, but the true Wisconsin Old Fashioned is made with brandy -- Korbel by tradition.

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