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The Classic Old Fashioned

Classic Old Fashioned | Nuff | https://unsplash.com/@nuff

Photo Credit: Nuff

This timeless drink has been a favorite of cocktail connoisseurs for over a century, and for good reason. The Old Fashioned is a simple yet elegant cocktail that's easy to make but packs a punch of flavor. Made with whiskey or bourbon, sugar, bitters, and a twist of orange or lemon peel, it's the perfect balance of sweet, bitter, and smoky.
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History of the Old Fashioned Cocktail

The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest and most iconic cocktails in the world, with a history that dates back to the early 19th century. The origins of the drink are somewhat murky, but it’s believed to have originated in the United States, specifically in the Midwest.

One theory is that the Old Fashioned was first concocted in Louisville, Kentucky in the late 1800s, where it was originally called the “whiskey cocktail.” Another theory is that it was invented in Wisconsin, where it was known as the “old-fashioned whiskey cocktail” and made with brandy instead of whiskey.

Regardless of its exact origin, the Old Fashioned quickly became a favorite among early cocktail enthusiasts, who appreciated its simplicity and bold flavors. By the early 20th century, it had become a staple in bars across the country and was widely recognized as one of the classic cocktails.

In the decades that followed, the Old Fashioned continued to evolve, with bartenders experimenting with different spirits, bitters, and garnishes to create new variations on the original recipe. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Old Fashioned fell out of favor as bartenders turned to more elaborate and flashy drinks, but it experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 21st century as a new generation of drinkers rediscovered its timeless appeal.

Today, the Old Fashioned remains one of the most popular cocktails in the world, beloved for its simplicity, versatility, and rich history. Whether enjoyed in a dimly lit speakeasy or at home with friends, it’s a drink that’s sure to transport you back in time and satisfy your taste buds.

How To Make a Classic Old Fashioned

To make an Old Fashioned cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:



  1. In a rocks glass, add the sugar and bitters.
  2. Add a splash of water (or a drop of soda water) to help dissolve the sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add a large ice cube (or several smaller ones) to the glass.
  4. Pour in the whiskey or bourbon.
  5. Using a muddler or a spoon, gently stir the ingredients together for about 20 seconds, or until the drink is well mixed and slightly diluted.
  6. Take a strip of orange or lemon peel, and express the oils over the drink by holding it over the glass and twisting it to release the oils. Drop the peel into the glass.
  7. Serve and enjoy your delicious Old Fashioned cocktail!

Some people like to garnish the Old Fashioned with a cherry or a slice of orange, but purists argue that the drink should be kept simple with just a twist of citrus peel. Feel free to experiment and customize your Old Fashioned to your liking!

Required Barware:

Popular Variations

Here are 27 popular variations of the classic old fashioned cocktail:

Fruit Old Fashioned: Instead of using a citrus peel, muddle a slice of fruit such as a cherry, orange or grapefruit in the glass before adding the sugar, bitters, and whiskey. This will add a sweet and fruity flavor to the cocktail.

Smoky Old Fashioned: Use a smoky whiskey, such as a peated Scotch, instead of a traditional bourbon or rye whiskey. This will add a smoky flavor to the cocktail that complements the sweetness of the sugar and the bitterness of the bitters.

Spiced Old Fashioned: Add a dash of cinnamon or other warm spices, such as nutmeg or clove, to the sugar and bitters mixture to create a spiced version of the Old Fashioned.

Mezcal (Oaxacan) Old Fashioned: Substitute the whiskey with mezcal, a smoky Mexican spirit made from agave. This variation will give the cocktail a distinct smoky and earthy flavor.

Maple Old Fashioned: Replace the sugar with maple syrup for a sweeter, richer version of the classic cocktail. This variation is especially popular during the fall and winter months.

Rum Old Fashioned: The addition of rum to the Old Fashioned gives the cocktail a tropical twist. Dark rum adds a hint of sweetness, while spiced rum adds warmth and complexity.

Brandy (Wisconsin) Old Fashioned: This variation originated in Wisconsin and features brandy as the base spirit. It’s typically made with a splash of soda water and a cherry garnish.

Tequila Old Fashioned: Substituting whiskey with tequila creates a spicy and smoky variation. A reposado or anejo tequila works best for this cocktail.

Apple Cider Old Fashioned: This variation adds apple cider to the classic recipe, creating a delicious fall-inspired cocktail.

Chocolate Old Fashioned: Adding a splash of chocolate bitters or creme de cacao creates a sweet and indulgent version of the classic cocktail.

Cherry Old Fashioned: Muddling a few cherries in the bottom of the glass and adding cherry bitters makes for a sweet and fruity variation.

Blackberry Old Fashioned: Muddle fresh blackberries with the sugar and bitters for a fruity and refreshing twist on the classic cocktail.

Peach Old Fashioned: This variation adds muddled fresh peaches to the mix, giving the cocktail a sweet and fruity flavor.

Fig Old Fashioned: Muddle figs in the glass before adding the whiskey, sugar, and bitters for a unique and delicious twist.

Ginger Old Fashioned: A spicy and warming variation made by adding a splash of ginger beer or ginger syrup to the classic recipe.

Pineapple Old Fashioned: Adding a splash of pineapple juice or muddling fresh pineapple in the glass creates a tropical and fruity version of the classic cocktail.

Cardamom Old Fashioned: Add a few dashes of cardamom bitters or muddle cardamom pods in the glass for a spicy and aromatic twist.

Lavender Old Fashioned: Infuse the sugar syrup with dried lavender or add a splash of lavender bitters for a floral and fragrant version.

Grapefruit Old Fashioned: Muddle grapefruit in the bottom of the glass or add a splash of grapefruit juice for a tangy and refreshing variation.

Elderflower Old Fashioned: A sweet and floral version made by adding a splash of elderflower liqueur or muddling fresh elderflowers in the glass.

Cinnamon Old Fashioned: Add a cinnamon stick or a few dashes of cinnamon bitters for a warm and spicy twist on the classic recipe.

Coffee Old Fashioned: A rich and indulgent variation made by adding a splash of cold brew coffee or coffee liqueur to the mix.

Honey Old Fashioned: Substitute the sugar with honey for a sweet and mellow version of the classic cocktail.

Cherry Cola Old Fashioned: Add a splash of cherry cola or muddle maraschino cherries in the glass for a sweet and nostalgic twist.

Blood Orange Old Fashioned: Muddle fresh blood oranges in the glass or add a splash of blood orange juice for a citrusy and vibrant variation.

Green Tea Old Fashioned: Add a splash of green tea or matcha powder to the mix for an earthy and antioxidant-packed twist.

Coconut Old Fashioned: Add a splash of coconut cream or muddle fresh coconut in the glass for a creamy and tropical version of the classic cocktail.

Remember, you can always experiment with different spirits, bitters, and sweeteners to create your own unique version of the Old Fashioned. Cheers!

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