The Old Fashioned Cocktail

It’s fitting that my first cocktail recipe on the blog is The Old Fashioned, since it’s the first one I learned to make as an adult, the first that piqued my interest in mixology and also the first to inspire me to respect fine bourbon and rye whiskeys.  I firmly believe that every gentleman should know how to make this cocktail for himself and his guests.  

How do you define a gentleman?  I always loved this quote from the movie Blast From The Past:

I thought a gentleman was somebody who owned horses. Turns out, the short and very simple definition of a gentleman [or a lady] is: someone who always attempts to make the people around him or her feel as comfortable as possible. That’s it! If you don’t do that, nothing else matters. The cars, the clothes, the houses…

The Old Fashioned is simple, elegant and timeless – and has existed since the early 19th century.  Since its creation, The Old Fashioned has evolved over the years into the ultimate gentleman’s drink.  It has made its rounds in pop culture, most notably being Mad Men Don Draper’s, drink of choice.  Here is the scene from 2010 that helped make this cocktail so popular in recent years:

Didn’t Don look like the smoothest and manliest man just now?  I see why this cocktail has been so popular with fans of the show.  I’ve tried making this cocktail a number of different ways over the years, but I think I’ve finally perfected it.  Feel free to use this recipe and method with bourbon or rye whiskey- bourbon if you prefer your cocktail a little sweeter and rye if you prefer spicier. Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, may I present to you… The Old Fashioned.

Yield: 1 cocktail


2 oz Bourbon or Rye whiskey of choice (I am using W.L. Weller Special Reserve)
3 Dashes of Angostura Aromatic Bitters
2 Demarara sugar cubes (regular sugar cubes will do just fine)
1 Navel orange peel
1 Maraschino cherry (I use Luxardo Maraschino cherries)
1 Large ice cube
4 Medium ice cubes

Other Tools

Mixing Glass (I use a Yarai Mixing Glass)
Paring knife or peeler
Hawthorne Strainer
Rocks glass
Pick or cocktail straw


  1. Place the sugar cubes into the mixing glass and soak with three (3) dashes of the Angostura Aromatic Bitters.old fashioned cocktail
  2. Muddle the sugar cubes until they are no longer crystallized. You may want to add a tiny splash of water to move this process along.old fashioned cocktail
  3. Once you have your sugar “syrup”, add medium-sized ice cubes and 2oz of your whiskey to your mixing glass. The reason for using medium-size ice cubes is for dilution- these cubes will melt a lot slower than smaller, commercial-freezer ice cubes while you’re stirring with your bar spoon. (I’ll be sharing my method for perfectly clear ice for cocktails in an upcoming post.)old fashioned cocktail
  4. This may be the most important part- an Old Fashioned is always STIRRED and never shaken. If your bartender makes you a shaken Old Fashioned, its best to stick to drinking beer at that establishment (personal pet peeve). Take your barspoon and stir your cocktail.  The general rule of thumb is 20 stirs clockwise and 20 stirs counter-clockwise.

    old fashioned cocktail
    Yes, my bar spoon is excessively long.
  5. Once your cocktail is stirred, have a sip using your bar spoon.  If it’s too strong for your taste, keep stirring to allow more dilution, if not, you’re ready to pour.  Place a large ice cube into your favorite whiskey / rocks glass. Place the hawthorne strainer over your mixing glass and slowly pour your mixture over the ice.old fashioned cocktail
  6. Now, you can technically drink your Old Fashioned at this step.  But I prefer to use some traditional garnishes. Carve a 1″ x 4″ peel from your navel orange using your paring knife.old fashioned cocktail
  7. Squeeze the orange peel “skin side down” over your glass to release its oils onto the surface of your cocktail.  This will provide a citrus aroma that compliments the bourbon and aromatic bitters of this classic drink.old fashioned cocktail
  8. The last step is a simple one. Place a Maraschino Cherry on a pick and drop it straight into the drink. Those bright red ones in the grocery store will work fine but trust me, Luxardo Cherries are worth the money.

    old fashioned cocktail
    My drink isn’t really that full, its just a big, clear ice cube.
  9. Savor and enjoy. Don would be proud.
    old fashioned cocktail

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