Drink Recipe: Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned drink recipe – This drink can be the highlight of the bartenders’ trade if done correctly. Unfortunately, more often than not this drink is made improperly and a disaster.

Some of the old cocktail favorites have been completely mangled by new bar tactics to the point that what you end up getting is beyond recognition. Sure, the Martini has fared pretty well but cold gin and vermouth is pretty hard to screw up – even by the most experimental bartenders. One old-fashioned drink that has not made its way through history so unscathed is the aptly named Old Fashioned.

The Oldest known Old Fashioned – recipe was published in 1895 in a book called “Modern American Drinks” by George J. Kappeler.


Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass; add two dashes Angostura bitters, a small piece ice, a piece lemon-peel, one jigger whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass.

Seems like a simple enough recipe, right? It is, but most modern bartenders just can’t help themselves from adding their own twists to the mix. The problems tend to start with the bartender leaving the water out, hoping that the sugar will dissolve in the alcohol. Since sugar is much more soluble in water compared to alcohol, attempting this with alcohol tends to leave sugar grit at the bottom of the glass.

Somewhere along the line, bartenders started to add soda water on top of the mix too. Maybe they misinterpreted the “a little water” bit. Or maybe they just wanted to make the glass look full and more appealing. Whatever the reason, the extra soda water only detracts from the experience and turns a cherished cocktail into a “highball” that nobody would ever want to order. A good rule of thumb is, if the glass is half-full then you’re doing good. If the glass is full then you either like a really large, stiff drink or you need to put the soda water away.

To make the drink correctly you will want to first dissolve the sugar cube with a teaspoon of warm water in a whiskey glass. Once the sugar is fully dissolved add two dashes of Angostura bitters and a small piece of ice. Top it off with half an orange slice before adding in your whiskey. Stir with a small spoon and serve. Traditionally an Old Fashioned is served with the spoon still in the drink.

The only difficult part about making this drink is not getting carried away with too many extra ingredients. There are hundreds of other drinks to choose from if you are looking for something with more ingredients than there are people in the bar. For this one, keep it simple and you will have the drink that has more than earned its name – the Old Fashioned.

Again, here’s the list of Old Fashioned ingredients

  • ½ orange slice
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 teaspoon of warm water
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces of rye or bourbon whiskey

Check out below video. It slightly deviates from my recommended recipe above but nonetheless results in a solid Old Fashioned.

More Drink Recipes:

Or check out our Bartender’s Cabinet


Photo Credit.