Old Fashioned

A new year calls for a (re)new(ed) section on the blog. I’ll be publishing at least one cocktail recipe a month. The first one is a fairly simple one yet mastering it takes time and practice. Meet the Old Fashioned.

Essentially this is a cocktail made by muddling sugar with bitters in a tumbler glass, adding alcohol and a slice of citrus rind. The Old Fashioned is one of the IBA (International Bartenders Association) official cocktails. The history of this cocktail goes back to the early 19th century. Back then it was even common to add absinthe or other liquors to the cocktail.

George Kappeler's book from 1895 "Modern American Drinks: How to Mix and Serve All Kinds of Cups and Drinks" contains one of the earliest published recipes.

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

George Kappeler - Modern American Drinks: How to Mix and Serve All Kinds of Cups and Drinks


  • 60 ml Maker’s Mark bourbon

  • 2 large slices of orange peel

  • 1 large cube of rock sugar

  • 1/2 bar spoon of Angostura bitters

  • large ice cubes

  • 1 maraschino cherry

Extra material

  • a tumbler glass

  • a mixing glass

  • a cocktail strainer

Preparation of an Old Fashioned

Cut one of the orange peels in smaller parts. Drop the sugar cube and the small pieces of orange peel in the mixing glass and add the Angostura. Break down the sugar with the back of your bar spoon and muddle the sugar with the bitters and orange peel. By doing so the orange will release essential oils.

Add whisky and stir until all of the sugar has been dissolved. Don’t content yourself with stirring a few seconds. Anything below three minutes doesn’t even come close to trying! Finally put a few ice cubes in the mixing glass and stir again to cool your drink.

Fill the tumbler glas with large ice cubes and pour your cocktail through the strainer in the old fashioned tumbler glass. Garnish with a strip of orange peel and an optional maraschino cherry.

This isn’t meant to be a definitive recipe of the Old Fashioned cocktail. Such a recipe simply does not exist. It is merely one of the many possibilities. Open up any cocktail book and you’re very likely to find a different recipe.

Some bartenders use lemon and orange peel or even add a dash of soda water to dissolve the sugar. Some recipes mention bourbon, others rye whiskey and some simply call for whisky… (Problem is using the word “whisky” or “scotch” as an ingredient means as much as using “vegetable” as an ingredient.)

Anyway, feel free to experiment with different types of whisky or even other brown spirits (reposado tequila springs to mind). Eventually you will come up with your own version of an Old Fashioned.

This Old Fashioned cocktail is a modified version from Keith Kenji Cochran's recipe as it is served at The Narrows bar in New York. You can find the original recipe in the book The Brooklyn Bartender.