This classic Old Fashioned recipe is easy to make with your favorite bourbon or rye whiskey, plus bitters, fresh orange, and a touch of sweetener. It’s a timeless cocktail that’s perfectly sippable all year ’round!
Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe
I love a good ol’ classic cocktail, and this Old Fashioned recipe is as classic and simple as it gets!
This drink is easy to mix up in just a few minutes. You only need some good bourbon (or rye whiskey), plus bitters, a fresh orange wheel or thin slice of peel, and a touch of sweetener. It’s a cocktail with a swanky sort of vibe, so satisfying to sip. It simply never goes out of style.
I’m a big fan of a maraschino or Luxardo cherry garnish for another hit of sweetness. Plus I love that bright pop of color. But garnish to your own heart’s content!
Why You’ll Love This Bourbon Cocktail
I love classic cocktails, and this one never disappoints. Here’s why you’ll love this old fashioned cocktail:
- Just 3 ingredients. You’ll need only whiskey (use your favorite bourbon or rye whiskey), bitters, and simple syrup. Garnishes are always optional – although for me, they’re never optional. Ha! So I always add fresh orange and a cherry.
- Super easy to put together. Stir ingredients together, then serve. That’s it!
- It can be batched and made in advance. You can make this as a one-off drink or combine the liquids in advance, in larger quantities. Just chill the mixture in the fridge until cocktail hour.
What You’ll Need
You need just a few easy-to-find ingredients to make an old fashioned. Make sure to scroll to the recipe card at the end of this post for the full ingredient amounts.
- Whiskey – Definitely use a good quality whiskey, either bourbon or rye. See the next section for more info on this.
- Simple syrup – Simple syrup adds a touch of sweetness to the old fashioned.
- Angostura bitters – Angostura bitters are called “bitters” for a reason. They help to balance out the sweetness of the simple syrup. Orange bitters are also delicious in an old fashioned.
- Orange and/or cherry – For garnish.
What’s The Best Bourbon for an Old Fashioned?
Use a good-quality whiskey in this cocktail because there are so few ingredients.
I prefer bourbon over rye whiskey…but you do you! Bourbon offers a slightly sweeter experience, with hints of oak and vanilla. Rye whiskey will give you more spicy notes.
I recommend a whiskey with a higher proof and bolder flavor notes, so its flavor is evident and not overpowered by the bitters. Woodford Reserve, Bulleit, Buffalo Trace, and Whistle Pig are a few that I’d recommend trying.
How to Make an Old Fashioned
Follow along with my easy steps for making an Old Fashioned below:
- Mix. In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, combine the whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters.
- Chill. Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir for 15 seconds. This will both chill and dilute the cocktail.
- Pour cocktail over fresh ice. Place a large ice cube in a lowball glass and strain the cocktail over the fresh ice.
- Garnish (optional) & serve. To garnish, rub an orange wheel around the rim of the glass, then plop it into the drink – or twist an orange peel over the drink to express its oils, then rub it around the rim of the glass and plop it into the drink. Then add your choice of cocktail cherry – either a maraschino or Luxardo cherry. Enjoy right away.
Tips & Variations
The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail for a reason. It has stood the test of time. But if you’re like me, and you love to play around with recipes, here are some variation ideas and tips for making an old fashioned drink:
- Try another syrup. For a warming fall and winter variation, try using brown sugar syrup or cinnamon simple syrup instead of simple syrup. You could also use pure maple syrup.
- Use the original sweetener. The original Old Fashioned recipe calls for a sugar cube instead of simple syrup, which is really quite lovely – I definitely enjoy this drink at fancy cocktail bars. But I always have simple syrup on hand for other cocktails and like how it blends effortlessly into the drink when I make this at home. If you want to use a sugar cube (or a teaspoon of granulated white sugar), first muddle it in the glass with the bourbon and bitters, then add the ice and stir.
- Adjust the sweetness. You can add more or less sweetener to this drink depending on how sweet you like your cocktails. You can also skip the sweetness altogether, if that’s your style.
- Adjust the bitters. If you don’t have much experience with bitters, I recommend starting with 2 good dashes (not drops) of bitters for this drink. Then play around by adding 1-2 more dashes. Experiment until you find the level of bitters that suits you.
- Ice. I like to use a larger ice cube for the Old Fashioned. It melts slower (dilutes the drink more slowly) because it has less total surface area. But feel free to use whatever kind of ice you have on hand. You can also opt to enjoy the chilled cocktail without ice in your glass – simply strain out the ice before pouring it into your glass.
- Optional garnishes. As I already talked about, garnishes are optional. But I think they add so much to a cocktail, especially one that’s as simple as this. So I definitely recommend adding some form of orange and cherry. You can add an orange wheel or peel. And either a maraschino or Luxardo cherry.
Old Fashioned Drink Serving Suggestions
Serve Old Fashioneds during cocktail hour with a variety of nibbles. I’ve outlined a few of my favorite snacks to serve with Old Fashioned cocktails below:
- Chips and salsas. Serve some tortilla chips and an assortment of fresh salsas with a tray of old fashioned cocktails! Try my roasted chili corn salsa, pico de Gallo, or restaurant style salsa. A classic guacamole is always welcome, too.
- A bacon board. A butter charcuterie board would be amazing. My butter board with bacon is perfect to set out during cocktail hour.
- Handheld appetizers. Serve a selection of handheld appetizers like potstickers, egg rolls, or everything bagel pigs in a blanket with these bourbon cocktails.
- With dips. Try one of my dip recipes, like baked buffalo chicken dip, million dollar dip, or cheesy beef taco dip with old fashioned cocktails.
Can This Cocktail Be Made In Advance?
Yes! An old fashioned is a drink that lends itself very well to being made in advance.
You can make one cocktail by following my recipe, or you can double, triple, or even make a large batch of the cocktail mixture. Just don’t add any ice.
So, you’ll simply combine the bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters in a glass or jar, and place the mix in the fridge until you’re ready to drink it. Then proceed with the ice step and the rest of the recipe.
- 2 ounces good quality whiskey (bourbon is my preference, but you can also use rye whiskey)
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- 2-4 good dashes (not drops) Angostura bitters, depending on your preference for bitter notes
- Fresh orange wheel or peel + maraschino or Luxardo cherry, for garnish
- In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, combine the whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters.
- Add ice and stir vigorously for 15 seconds, to chill and dilute the cocktail.
- Place a large ice cube into a lowball glass and pour the cocktail over the fresh ice.
- To garnish: Rub an orange wheel around the rim of the glass, then plop it into the drink - or twist an orange peel over the drink to express its oils, then rub it around the rim of the glass and plop it into the drink. Add your choice of cocktail cherry, if you like a little more sweetness. Enjoy immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 27gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.