Cocktail Guide | How to make an Old Fashioned Cocktail

What’s an Old Fashioned?

The history of old fashioned cocktails goes way back. We’re talkin’ all the way to the 1800’s back. 

Folks are still quarreling over the exact date to this day – we’re not surprised the fellas and gals who made it first were a little fuzzy on the details after. But the fact that they’re still as popular as ever shows they were on to something good. 

Now let’s be clear. There are old fashioned cocktails and there’s The Old Fashioned. An old fashioned cocktail is any mixture of whiskey, sugar and bitters. The Old Fashioned is the way we make ‘em. With an added measure of style. Here’s how:


The basics

A quality classic cocktail should whet the appetite, have a dry yet smooth flavor, and look like a million dollars.

Getting the flavor balance right starts with the base – the main liquor you’ll use in your cocktail. The Old Fashioned calls for whiskey (generally bourbon or rye), but brandy and rum (or even gin if you’re feeling brave) can work too.  

The base will make up to three quarters of your drink, so this isn’t the place to cut corners. You’ll want to use a high quality whiskey but find the sweet spot between quality and cost. You don’t have to break the bank here – in fact, some of the super swell whiskeys and bourbons are better left untouched. 

Strength-wise, ideally you’re looking for a rye whiskey or bourbon that’s over 45% alc/vol. We prefer to use Woodford Reserve, or Woodford Reserve Double Oaked if we’re feelin’ real fancy!

Muddle your modifier

The modifier is the secondary ingredient in your cocktail. It’ll enhance the flavor of your base and smooth it out by sweetening it just a little.

The traditional method is to add a sugar cube directly to your glass and muddle with a few drops of aromatic bitters and water. Our Old Fashioned method uses a mixing glass, a rich demerara syrup and a blend of Angostura bitters & Orange bitters (equal parts) to add an undertone of citrus. Using a syrup instead of sugar gives you more control over the sweetness & consistency of your cocktail.

Stay cool

So you’ve got your base and modifier together in your mixing glass. Now add some large cubes and start stirring. The bigger the ice cubes, the slower they will melt and the longer you will have to stir, and vice versa. Small cubes melt quickly, making it tricky to control the dilution level of your drink.

Stir for about 15-20 seconds or until the outside of your mixing glass begins to frost up – the aim here is to get the perfect dilution without over watering the whiskey.

Serve up in a chilled rocks glass over a large cube of clear ice (2”x2”) or ice sphere. Same principle applies here, the bigger the ice the slower it melts

Don’t have any clear ice? You can find out how to make it here


Care for a smoke?

Adding an authentic smoked flavor will take your Old Fashioned from standard to spiffy. Use a smoke infuser to fill an empty whiskey bottle (sure you’ll find one somewhere) until it’s opaque. Then put the cap on to capture the smoke.

No infuser? No problem. Just burn a small stick of applewood or hickory and place your whiskey bottle upside down over the top. Lift the bottle off and cap it whilst still upside down to catch the smoke.

Next, pour your cocktail from the mixing jug to the smoke bottle and swirl (don’t shake!). After two to three minutes, transfer to a ready and waiting rocks glass and pour over your chunky ice.

Extra appeal

To make your Old Fashioned cocktail real easy on the eye, finish off with a garnish. Traditionally this calls for a swirl of orange peel and maraschino cherry. Express the peel over the drink and rim the outside of the glass before popping it in the drink. 

Oh, ‘an one more thing…be a shame to make it this far and cheap out on the cherries…

Those red cherries belong on a dessert (or in the trash!) – splash out on the Luxardo Maraschino cherries to cap your drink off in style.

Our signature recipe is below:

  • 2oz Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters, 2 dashes Fee Bros Orange Bitters
  • ¼oz rich demerara syrup
  • Traditional orange peel garnish
  • 1 x Luxardo maraschino cherry