Old Fashioned Cocktail

The single most requested cocktail in my home, hands down, is an Old Fashioned Cocktail. This classic is made using five ingredients — whiskey, simple syrup, bitters, a cocktail cherry, and an orange peel. Easy to craft and one of my favorites to enjoy, this boozy, smooth cocktail never goes out of style.

If you enjoy whiskey cocktails, you’ll also love my Classic Manhattan Cocktail, Cinnamon Maple Whiskey Sour, Freya’s Wheels Of Fury Cocktail, Blackberry Whiskey Smash, Rosemary & Honey Whiskey Cocktail, and New York Whiskey Sour.

old fashioned cocktail

It’s official! Whiskey cocktails have taken the #1 spot on my list. While I have other favorites, like this Classic Manhattan Cocktail, there is just something about an Old Fashioned that sets it apart. Thanks to the bourbon and simple syrup, it’s balanced in strength and sweetness, with a slight brightness from the spice and citrus notes from the bitters and orange peel.

Hailing from New York City, the Old Fashioned cocktail has been around since the 1800s, and as history shows us, it will be around for a long time.

Old fashioned ingredients

Here is what you need to make an old fashioned cocktail:

  • The foundation for your cocktail will be your choice of whiskey, and this very important choice will determine the potency and flavor of your old fashioned. For a sweeter, full-bodied cocktail, go with bourbon, and if you want a spicier, drier version, opt for a rye. See below for a list of my go-to bourbons.
  • For the bitters, Angostura Bitters (notes of clove and cinnamon) is the more classic selection. Still, I prefer black walnut bitters (paid link), enhancing the old-fashioned with notes of cocoa and a slightly sweet finish.
  • A classic old-fashioned uses a sugar cube (granulated white sugar) to sweeten the cocktail. My approach is to make a simple syrup. To make the best simple syrup, you’ll need turbinado sugar (paid link) and water. Turbinado sugar (paid link) results in a rich, caramel-like syrup that is perfect for this recipe.
  • You’ll need a large ice cube (paid link) to cool the cocktail and for visual appeal. Choose one large ice cube (paid link) versus smaller cubes or crushed ice. A larger, single ice cube will melt slower and won’t dilute the cocktail as quickly.
  • An orange peel serves as the garnish and provides additional flavor. Using a peeler to make a 1 to 2-inch slice, twist the orange peel directly over your glass to express the oils, or torch your orange peel if you are feeling fancy. Either approach will add a nice citrus aroma to your cocktail.
  • You’ll also need maraschino cherries (paid link) in heavy syrup.

How to make the best old fashioned cocktail:

I highly recommend making your simple syrup in advance. Once you have your ingredients ready, you are only a few minutes away from your new favorite cocktail.

Make your simple syrup. Add the turbinado sugar (paid link) and water into a mason jar (paid link) or glass and stir until the sugar dissolves. This can take 5-10 minutes, so be patient.

turbinado simple syrup

Peel your orange and add your cherry. Using a peeler, slice a 1 to 2-inch piece of orange peel from your orange and flame both sides slightly with a torch (optional). Place in an old fashioned cocktail glass. Add a maraschino cherry.

Add the bitters and simple syrup. Add two dashes of black walnut bitters (paid link) and 1 oz. of turbinado simple syrup to the glass.

adding black walnut bitter for an adding round ice to an old fashioned cocktail

Add the bourbon. Pour the bourbon whiskey into the glass. Stir well using a bar spoon (paid link).

Add ice. Add a large square or round ice cube. Stir for 20-30 seconds to allow the ice to melt a little and cool the cocktail.

adding round ice to an old fashioned cocktail

What is the best bourbon for an old fashioned?

The type of whiskey you choose for this recipe will make a huge difference, so you’ll want to choose wisely. I tend to lean more towards bourbon with a hint of sweetness that is high-proof (for the extra stiffness I enjoy). A few bourbons I always have on hand are Knob Creek, Bulleit, and Buffalo Trace. I also enjoy Angel’s Envy, Larceny, Old Forester, and Elijah Craig. Ultimately, you are always safe choosing a whiskey you love — but leave your high-end bottles to enjoy neat!

Are there different old fashioned cocktail recipes?

There are many “spins” on the classic old fashioned cocktail. It’s amazing what changing one ingredient can do! By swapping out the base liquor, the simple syrup, or the bitters (see below for a few alternatives), you’ll have a completely different old fashioned.

While bourbon or rye whiskey are the traditional options, there are a few more variations I think you should try. On a recent cruise, I tried my first Rum Old Fashioned, and I was very impressed. I’ve also enjoyed old fashioneds made with brandy, gin, and mezcal.

During the holidays, you can make an apple, maple, pumpkin, or peppermint old fashioned by infusing your simple syrup with other ingredients like apple cider, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, peppermints, and even rosemary.

What are the best bitters for an old fashioned?

Classic old-fashioned recipes use Angostura Bitters (think clove and cinnamon). I prefer black walnut bitters for this recipe, and you can also try chocolate or orange bitters.


Old Fashioned Cocktail Tips & Tricks

  • Get the proper glass! Known as a lowball glass, you can find old fashioned or rocks glasses (paid link) at many stores.
  • When making your simple syrup, I recommend using turbinado sugar (paid link). It will give you caramel-like syrup that is richer in flavor. Also, go ahead and make a larger batch. It will keep it in the fridge for a few weeks, and you’ll always have some on hand.
  • Larger ice cubes not only make the cocktail look great, but the drink will be colder for longer, and it won’t dilute as quickly. Choose a single, oversized ice cube versus using smaller cubes or crushed ice.
old fashioned cocktail

This is a go-to in my home, so be sure to add this Old Fashioned Cocktail to your bar menu. Remember to always be safe and don’t drink and drive. Cheers!

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old fashioned cocktail

Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Eric Jones
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


This Old Fashioned Cocktail blends bourbon whiskey with the sweetness of turbinado simple syrup and black walnut bitters (paid link) for a perfectly balanced drink.


Units Scale


  1. Add turbinado sugar (paid link) and water into a mason jar (paid link) or glass and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set to the side.
  2. Slice a piece of orange peel from your orange using a peeler. Place the orange peel in a rocks or old fashioned glass. Add the maraschino cherry.
  3. Add the bourbon whiskey, black walnut bitters (paid link), and 1 oz. turbinado simple syrup to the glass. Stir using a bar spoon (paid link). Stir well using a bar spoon (paid link).
  4. Add a large ice cube (paid link) and serve. Stir for 20-30 seconds to allow the ice to melt a little and cool the cocktail.


You can adjust the sweetness of the cocktail by increasing or decreasing the amount of simple syrup.

The recipe will make more simple syrup than you need to make one cocktail, so there is plenty to create additional drinks.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Cocktails
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 366
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Sodium: 21mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.8g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

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  1. Sharon Tate says:

    I loved the black walnut bitters in this! Wow! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Lizabeth Chesterfield says:

    Is there automatic and legitimate copyright for the content on a site?

    1. Eric Jones says:

      Yes, there is. Any images and copy (verbiage) are copywritten on this site. Recipes themselves cannot be copywritten.