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Old Fashioned

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How To Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe | #drink #cocktail #vegan #glutenfree

Since I am right in the middle of binge-watching season six of Mad Men this week, I thought it might be apropos to do a quick post on how to make an old fashioned cocktail. Or I should say, more accurately, how make an old fashioned. Because I’m pretty sure old fashioned cocktails are like chocolate chip cookies. Everyone likes theirs made a certain way. And everyone is very opinionated about what that way should be.

(Yes, only a food blogger compares bourbon to cookies…)

But the fact remains that whether you like bourbon or rye, orange peel or slices, sugar cubes or simple syrup, cherry or not, the heart of this cocktail remains a classic. It was a classic long before Don Draper’s time. And thankfully it will remain a classic long after. So cheers to the drink that has earned its name!

How To Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe | #drink #cocktail #vegan #glutenfree

That’s right. According to good ol’ Wikipedia, the Old Fashioned was basically the earliest of cocktails, kickin’ it since the early 1800s and officially named in 1881. Since then, it has become an American classic, it has had a glass named after it (multiple actually), and of course it has enjoyed a nice little resurgence thanks to that mad, mad show on AMC.

Which I’m about an inch away from abandoning, btw.

Gah. I’m halfway through the season right now, and am reminded why I prefer to binge watch this show each year. I seriously can’t imagine riding the Don Draper roller coaster for 9 months at a time. Watching the episodes back to back already makes me want to jump out of my chair and give him (and Roger Sterling, and half of the cast) a serious piece of my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the show for all of the standard reasons. I think the writing is brilliant. Love the costuming. Love all of the ad talk. I just want Don for once to get called to task for some of the not-so-awesome decisions he makes. Or just one of those decisions. The dude gets away with everything.

Still, my friends have told me I must keep watching, so I’m pressing on. But after a particularly ridiculous episode yesterday, I’m pretty sure Don should have been making his faithful viewers one of these drinks for sticking with him. ;)

How To Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe | #drink #cocktail #vegan #glutenfree

Although, I like my old fashioned cocktails made slightly differently than Don.

He goes the route of his time, using sugar cubes and club soda. I make mine with…

How To Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe | #drink #cocktail #vegan #glutenfree

These ingredients. (Plus ice.)  We have:

Bourbon: Yes, there’s a mega debate about whether to use bourbon or rye whiskey here. Either work beautifully. I prefer bourbon. (*Also see the recipe for gluten-free bourbon brand recommendations.*)

Bitters: When it comes to this drink, you must go with Angostura aromatic bitters. They’re the best.

Orange Slices: My personal preference as well, partly because I like the flavor of the actual orange juice that seeps into the cocktail. But partly because I think a nice thick slice looks lovely in the glass. ;)  Many will argue for squeeze and dropping orange peels into the cocktail, and some will even muddle either the slice or peel in the drink. But my friend Nathan and I agree that the slice does a great job of flavoring the drink just by sitting in it for a few minutes before drinking, maybe after a quick shake of the glass to help it along.

Maraschino Cherries: Only note here? Buy the ones with the stems. Classic.

Simple Syrup: Also a personal preference. Many use a sugar cube (or a teaspoon of sugar) instead of simple syrup. But here’s the thing, sugar won’t dissolve in whiskey. So this is why many people pour club soda or water into the drink to help dissolve the sugar. I’m anti-carbonation in old fashioneds, so I find it easier to just use simple syrup. It literally takes a minute to make, and is much easier to mix. (Oh, and if you want a fab variation on this drink, dry infusing your simple syrup with some fresh ginger. A-m-a-z-i-n-g.)

Ice: Finally, this drink is served on the rocks (a.k.a. over ice). The bigger the ice cubes, the better, so that they do not melt and dilute your drink as quickly. But use whatever you have.

How To Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe | #drink #cocktail #vegan #glutenfree

I was going to make you a nice step-by-step collage, but ran out of time. (Watching too many darn episodes this week!)  So instead, I popped the images into a little animated GIF. Sorry, it’s a little jerky, but you get the idea.

Bourbon + Simple Syrup + Bitters + Ice + Orange + Cherry.

The end.

Oh wait! But that’s not the end. Stay tuned this week because I have one more old-fashioned (inspired) recipe coming up. It may or may not involve shrimp. (Whaaa?)

Yep, you’d better check back. :)

Cheers, friends!

How To Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe | #drink #cocktail #vegan #glutenfree

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Old Fashioned Cocktail

  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving 1x


Learn how to make an old fashioned cocktail with this classic recipe.


  • 2 ounces bourbon (or rye) (*see notes below on gluten-free brands*)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons simple syrup (**see instructions below)
  • 23 dashes Angostura bitters, to taste
  • ice
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry, with stem


  1. Combine the bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters in a glass, and stir to combine. Add ice, then add the orange slice and maraschino cherry. Let the drink sit for a few minutes, or give it a little shake to let the flavors of the orange and cherry seep into the bourbon. Drink and enjoy.
  2. (*If you are looking for a gluten-free bourbon, try Bulleit or Maker’s Mark.)
  3. (**To make simple syrup, simply bring equal parts water and sugar to a boil, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.)

How To Make An Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe | #drink #cocktail #vegan #glutenfree

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38 comments on “Old Fashioned”

  1. I LOVE myself a good Old Fashioned. Especially here in WI, we are serious about making these not from scratch, don’t even think about it!

  2. Paul LOVES Bulleit Bourbon…and I prefer to drink it just like this – sugar, bitters, cherry and orange. YES.

  3. I feel the same way Ali. I love Mad Men. But watching it stresses me out. They characters are all just so terrible to each other. No morals what so ever!

    Beautiful photos, as usual :-)

  4. Hey Ali! I have been doing a cocktail series for the current season of Mad Men and you are putting me to shame! :) I’m not so good with photographing cocktails and you did a kick-ass job here! This is coming up on my list of cocktails in my series, but I’m going to have to link to your post – totally awesome!

    and yes…. keep watching! There’s an episode in Season 6 where you will just want to reach out and smack Don into Jersey! :)

  5. For a quick cheat, pour a healthy serving of bourbon and a splash of Grand Marnier.

  6. Don’t forget your can make them with Brandy!

  7. We’re in the middle of season three and enjoying it but, like you said, glad that we don’t have to stretch it out over many weeks. I’ve just printed your recipe though I don’t think I like bourbon. My husband has ordered an old fashioned twice since we’ve started watching Mad Men and, at the risk of sounding like a 1950s housewife, it might be fun to serve him one.

  8. I love the GIF and love this cocktail! Old-fashions are always something I order out on special occasions, but I’ve never made them at home!

  9. Love an Old Fashioned but with SOCO, or better known as southern comfort. No sugar needed, give it a try!!!

  10. This is such an awesome recipe, my husband loves old fashions, I feel they’re becoming more ‘hip’ again lol (makes me sound super old) so now I can pretend I know what I’m doing and make this for him! Love the gif, too cute!

  11. I really need to try this drink. I hear so many people rave about it.

  12. Me and my mom have been binge watching season 6 too!! I have actually never had an old fashioned but I think I might have to!!

  13. Without getting into spoilers, Don definitely has some consequences for his actions coming up! Stick with it :) Several of my male friends have gotten really into old fashions lately, they just look so fancy when you drink them, I think

  14. This is a great recipe you’ve got going! The old fashioned is my drink of choice – not to mention I love Bulliet bourbon. For me, though, I stick the with the sugar cube. You must put a couple of drops of water over the cube (or loose sugar if that’s what’s being used) for the sugar to dissolve. It takes longer this way but there is something about the creation and anticipation that I enjoy. I also use orange and I muddle in the orange every so slightly once the sugar cube is dissolved, then I put a couple of dashes Angostura, the bourbon and top with three ice cubes. I may or may not add the cherry (depending on if I have them).

    It’s Monday – I think an old fashioned is in order tonight!

  15. I use sugar cubes as well since I don’t make enough of these to keep simple syrup around. Plus I use cask-strength bourbon (Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve), which needs to be cut with water anyway, so muddling the sugar cube in the bitters and that water works well.

    But I’m glad to know you don’t muddle the fruit. I’m always annoyed when I order one and it comes back pink or red because the cherries and orange slice were muddled.

  16. I have been on a little bit of a bourbon kick lately. Must try this gorgeous classic!

  17. Beautiful blog post & lovely recipe! Classic!
    Just a note–if distilled spirits are actually distilled, there should be no gluten in the booze. Obviously, if it’s a gluten based spirit, there may be gluten particles around (just like in a kitchen), but there shouldn’t be any non-distilled gluten in the spirit. Legally, manufacturers are required to include “distilled” on their label, if it is actually ran through the still.

  18. Looks great.  Love your writing style.  My brother made some cherry bitters with absenthe.  Going to try this with the cherry bitters instead of the actual cherry and muddle up my orange slice a bit.  

  19. Does anyone have a conversion recipe for a liter pitcher of old fashioneds?

  20. Of course it is made with bourbon. Anyone who would even think of using rye would probably claim that there really is such a thing as a Vodka Martini.

  21. Tried this OF recipe using TX Whiskey and it was amazing. Had a frozen OF popsicle a couple of months ago that was made with TX Whiskey and it was delicious so I was looking for OF cocktail recipe to use that awesome whiskey and this one was perfect! While the frozen pop was good, the cocktail is so much better. Thanks for sharing.

  22. An Old Fashion is such a relaxing drink. Been drinking them for years (74yo). Make them exactly this way but use Angostura Orange Bitters. Gives them a slight orange flavor

  23. No Vermouth?