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, 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. Use the best quality giggle juice you can get your mitts on. Ideally you’re looking for a rye whiskey or bourbon that’s over 45% alc/vol. For The Old Fashioned we use Hudson Baby Bourbon Single Barrel – the first legal pot-still whiskey to be produced in New York since prohibition.

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. 

You can use simple syrup if you’re in a rush, but The Old Fashioned method is to add a sugar cube to your mixing jug and muddle with a few drops of aromatic bitters and water. Our first choice is Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters for an unorthodox hit of spice and cinnamon. And throwing in an orange or lemon segment offers a real citrus zing, if you like that kinda thing. 

Once you’ve blended a smooth syrup, add your base at a ratio of twelve parts whiskey to one part syrup. Give your drink another stir.

Stay cool

Chip a big block of ice into your mixing jug and continue stirring.

If you’re feeling fancy you can go the whole nine yards and use an ice ball, but either way, make sure it’s a solid lump. Crushed ice will melt faster, and nobody wants a watery Old Fashioned.


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 shake. After two to three minutes, transfer to a ready and waiting rocks glass (a tumbler with a wide mouth and heavy bottom) complete with a fresh ball of 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. But feel free to get creative with your presentation and garnish – your base spirit might call for something a little different. 

Our signature recipe is below:


  • 2oz Hudson Baby Bourbon Single Barrel
  • 3 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
  • 1 x sugar cube or Simple Syrup
  • Traditional orange peel garnish
  • 1 x maraschino cherry


There you have it. Go ahead and make yours a classic! And keep your eye on the blog for new variations to try.

Prefer us to make ‘em for you?

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