How To Make The Perfect Old Fashioned
— Updated on 14 August 2023

How To Make The Perfect Old Fashioned

— Updated on 14 August 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai
1 serving(s)
Prep Time:
5 mins


  • 60 ml Bourbon whiskey
  • 1 tsp Sugar cube
  • 2 Dash Angostura bitters
  • 15 ml Water


  1. Place your sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass and saturate it with bitters and water. Muddle all of the ingredients together to combine.
  2. Add a large ice cube, along with your Bourbon of choice. Stir all ingredients again thoroughly.
  3. Express orange peel over the rim of your glass. Garnish (with spent peel) and serve.

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Consider for a moment a parallel universe in which the Old Fashioned never existed. For most bartenders – particularly those of a classic, history-loving bent – the very thought is tantamount to religious heresy.

A stalwart of the classic cocktail world since the early 19th century, mixology would be profoundly different without the Old Fashioned’s pivotal and continued influence.

Often thought to have been invented as the result of an article published in 1806 (by political journalist Harry Croswell in Balance and Columbian Repository magazine) few beverages in the modern world quite encapsulate cocktails like the Old Fashioned.

Composed of “spirits…sugar, water and bitters” it is the quintessence of most classic American mixed beverages (one notable exception being the Martini, which is distinguished by its usage of a liqueur). Kindred in spirit to a culinary essential at the level of scrambled eggs, it’s a style of cocktail that is most prone to sliding into cliché whenever badly made.

Think hard: over the years, you’ve probably even imbibed a few dud ones yourself.

At the same time, assuming we’re all capable of following simple instructions, the Old Fashioned recipe is a painless and superbly rewarding one to follow at home: capable of intensifying the flavours of a classic Kentucky straight bourbon; and pleasing a variety of palates when a glass of Chablis or the predictable G&T simply won’t pass muster.

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Like all great creations in the F&B pantheon, the joy of the Old Fashioned is in simplicity. It requires an almost laughably modest assortment of ingredients – all of them pantry staples – but if there’s one that enthusiasts skimp on at their own peril, it’s most definitely your choice of Whiskey.

A Bourbon of quality make (i.e. matured for at least two years in new oak) is the standard bit of kit; but equally, erudite boozehounds have been known to sub in straight rye whiskey, multi-grain Canadian or even a drop of peaty Scotch.

As for ice? A large cube or ice ball will dilute your beverage effectively so be sure to source a suitable mould or tray. Better yet, grab a bag of Bare Bones pre-cut ice cubes to elevate your occasion. To finish, be sure to give the orange peel a thorough expressing in order to extract all those delicious essential oils. Consider garnishing with a flamed peel for additional flair and flavour.

Easy Method For Making An Old Fashioned Cocktail

#1 – Place a sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass

#2 – Wet it down with Angostura Bitters

Old Fashioned Recipe

#3 – Add a few drops of water

Old Fashioned Recipe

#4 – Muddle together and swirl to line the glass

#5 – Add a large ice cube

Old Fashioned Recipe

#6 – Pour in Maker’s Mark bourbon

Old Fashioned Makers Mark

#7 – Stir until diluted

Old Fashioned Recipe

#8 – Garnish with a twist of orange peel

#9 – Enjoy

Old Fashioned Recipe

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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