As its name indicates, this cocktail is old. So old in fact, that it was already dubbed an Old Fashioned by the late 19th century. Similar to the the Sazerac, it follows the traditional definition of the word “cocktail” (Spirit + Bitters + Sugar). It is considered one of the granddaddies of present days cocktails – a classic cocktail – and personally, I’m glad it has survived the test of time. How could it not? It’s simple, delicious, and it’s Don Draper’s signature drink.
Below you can find the classic recipe. It’s an easy one to make at home so why not try it out tonight? My personal viewpoint on this recipe is to use rye or bourbon as you prefer. Bourbon, as it is largely corn based, is generally a sweeter whiskey with notes of caramel and toffee. Rye is usually spicier with notes of pepper, clove, and nutmeg.
The Classic Old Fashioned
2 oz rye or bourbon
⅓ – ½ oz simple syrup (but no more!)
2 dashes of Angostura
Thick orange zest for garnish
Add ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain over large ice rocks. Twist the zest over the glass to release the oils and place on top as garnish.
This cocktail is traditionally made with a sugar cube, but I almost always go with simple syrup. The versatility of simple syrup will give you more flexibility when you level up your cocktail skills and want to use the old fashioned as a template for a new drink.
I would also recommend to try and steer clear of the value whiskies on this one. The flavours from the whiskey really come through and bad or harsh whiskey could mean a bad Old Fashioned.
You may have seen (or been served) an Old Fashioned with a muddled orange wheel and cherry garnished the same way. This small variation of the drink is called the Fruit Old Fashioned. For this version, a sugar cube is recommended as the crystals will help muddle the fruit.
The “Fruit” Old Fashioned
2 oz rye or bourbon
1 sugar cube
¼ orange wheel
1 Maraschino cherry (optional)
2 dashes Angostura
¼ orange wheel and maraschino cherry for garnish
Add sugar, orange, cherry, and bitters in an empty mixing glass and muddle. Add whiskey and ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain over large ice rocks. Garnish with quarter orange and a skewered Maraschino cherry.
As I mentioned earlier, the Old Fashioned is a great template for other cocktails. We’ve covered one already – The Skinos Old Fashioned, and here are some other excellent examples:
2 oz rye
¼ oz Fernet Branca
¼ oz simple syrup
2-5 dashes Angostura
Orange twist for garnish
Add ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain over a large ice rock. Twist the zest over the glass to release the oils and place on top as garnish.
The Ancho Old Fashioned – The Spicy Old Fashioned
I recently got my hands on this magical chile liqueur that adds spice and pairs well with almost anything. If you manage to find it, get it. It’s pretty rare in the US and almost unheard of here in Canada. More on this libation soon. This recipe is from the Ancho Chile website and it was a big hit when taste tasted by the other FMMS gents.
1 oz Ancho Reyes (Ancho chile liqueur)
1 oz Tequila reposado
¼ oz rich syrup
3 dashes Angostura
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
Add ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain over a large ice rock. Twist the zest over the glass to release the oils and place on top to garnish.
I hope that you try making some of these for your guests, and even order them when you’re out and about. I assure you, you’ll feel as cool and sophisticated as Don Draper (just don’t cheat on your wife as much)!