The term cocktail was coined in the early 1800’s and was defined as spirits, water, bitters and sugar. Gin was most likely the first spirit used in cocktails, but over time, other spirits became popular to use. The Old Fashioned, as we know it today, fits this definition exactly. The origins of this popular whiskey-based cocktail go far back in history—so much so that its beginnings are muddled (pun intended) with equal parts truth and myth.
Being a spirit-forward cocktail, the other ingredients are meant only to enhance the characteristics of the whiskey. Some versions of the drink add cherries, orange wedges, or other fruit to be muddled together. This version keeps it simple and lets you enjoy the unique flavor of your whiskey of choice without masking it beyond recognition. Just like many whiskey-based cocktails, bitters are used. Angostura bitters were made famous in the US being used in the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, so that is what we’re using in this recipe. Unlike many other cocktails, an Old Fashioned is prepared in the glass that it’s served in, making it very quick and easy to prepare.
Bourbon whiskey is most commonly used because of its mellow and versatile character. Four Roses Yellow Label is great if you want a fruity, floral and brighter drink. Woodford Reserve Bourbon can be used for a more viscous, vanilla/caramel flavor.
Rye whiskey can be substituted for a more spicy and dry flavor. Rittenhouse is a good option if you prefer a whiskey that is dry and light, with more obvious grassy grain notes. Templeton is suggested for a more balanced sweet and dry taste.
- A rocks glass or any whiskey glass
- Simple syrup
- Angostura bitters
- Bourbon or Rye whiskey
- Twist of orange peel
Begin building your drink with:
- 1 bar spoon, or about 1 teaspoon of simple syrup
- 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
(Sub in Angostura orange if you’re short on orange rind)
- Fill glass with ice (preferably one circular ball), and then add:
- 1.5-2oz bourbon or rye whiskey
Stir with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds, or until well mixed and slightly diluted from the ice. Cut about a 2-inch strip of orange peel. Pinch in half over the glass, to release the essential oils, rub on the rim of the glass and then drop into the glass as a garnish. If you’re feeling adventurous, lemon peel can be substituted in the rye whiskey version to give your drink a brighter character. That’s it–keep it easy!