The Old Fashioned Cocktail

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The Old Fashioned is often considered the most classic of the classic cocktails. For many it conjures up images of the platonic ideal of a bar drink. There’s a good reason for this. In the early 1800s, if someone ordered a “cocktail” at a saloon, the bartender would immediately mix you up the telltale concoction of bourbon, sugar, bitters, and orange that we now know as the Old Fashioned. It wasn’t until new and more adventurous concoctions started showing up in bars that bourbon lovers needed to order an “Old Fashioned cocktail” to distinguish it from these later creations. 

While the ingredient list of Old Fashioned (bourbon, sugar, butters, orange peel) makes this classic cocktail seem deceptively simple, it is anything but. Ask ten bartenders and they will give you ten different recipes for the Old Fashioned. They will agree on one thing, however— the Old Fashioned is one of the most challenging drinks to nail consistently. This is because this elegant cocktail is all about craft and technique. 


The Old Fashioned Cocktail

The recipe here is the result of careful exploration of hundreds of different Old Fashioned recipes and techniques to see which ingredients and approaches yield the optimal results. Rest assured that this is the most balanced, boozy, and delicious incarnation of America’s oldest cocktail.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail


  • 2 oz Bourbon (90-100 proof)
  • 1 tsp Demerara syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (4 if using a dasher bottle)
  • 1 peel of fresh orange


  • The Old Fashioned is one of the rare cocktails that is built right inside the glass. Start by placing a large ice cube into a double rocks glass, and give the ice some time to temper before adding the other ingredients.
  • Next add 2 dashes of bitters. When building any cocktail it is usually best to add ingredients from cheapest to most expensive in case you mess up the recipe and need to start over.
  • Now add a teaspoon of demerara syrup. Why syrup instead of the classic muddled sugar cube? It’s hard for even the best bartenders to get a sugar cube to fully dissolve resulting inconsistency and a grainy texture.
  • Using a jigger, add 2 oz of Bourbon. (Higher proof bourbon (90-100) is recommended as it helps cut through and balance the sugar.) Stir the cocktail about 30 revolutions using a bar spoon.
  • Be careful that it is always in contact with the inner surface of the glass. This ensures that the drink is not agitated, keeping the drink’s texture as smooth as possible.
  • Use a peeler to cut a 2-inch long orange peel and express it over the stirred cocktail. Then rub the orange peel on the outer rim of the glass before dropping it into the drink.
Keyword Cocktail, Old Fashioned

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