The Old Fashioned – New Again

The Old Fashioned conjures up an scene from a different era. A bar man in an apron with pockets holding all his tools. A gentleman customer with a fedora. A wooden top bar. Dim light.

I can’t recall the first time that I had an Old-Fashioned but it was decades ago, probably a cigar bar somewhere. Today, this very old cocktail has had a rebirth with dozens of variations of the same drink being contacted. My favourite is a smoked maple version where the taste of smoke complements the sweetness of the maple syrup which is a a substitute for the sugar.

The Old Fashioned cocktail is a classic and timeless cocktail that has been a favourite for many years. The recipe is easy and fully customizable.


  • 2 ounces of whiskey (typically bourbon or rye)
  • A sugar cube or 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • A few dashes of water
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange peel or cherry for garnish (optional)

Here are the steps to make an Old Fashioned:

  1. Start by placing the sugar cube or granulated sugar into a glass. If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, you can use more sugar or for a less sweet cocktail use less sugar.  Sometimes bars “cheat” by using simple syrup, a premade sugar syrup.
  2. Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters onto the sugar cube. You can adjust the amount of bitters to your taste.
  3. Add a few dashes of water (around 1 teaspoon) to help dissolve the sugar.
  4. Muddle the sugar cube, bitters, and water together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. You can use a muddler or the back of a spoon to gently press and mix the ingredients.
  5. Add the whiskey to the glass. Bourbon is commonly used, but you can also use rye whiskey for a spicier flavor. Adjust the amount of whiskey based on your preference, typically 2 ounces is used.
  6. Stir the mixture well to combine the flavors. You can use a stirring spoon or a cocktail mixing glass to achieve a good mix.
  7. Add ice cubes to the glass and give it another gentle stir. The ice will dilute the drink slightly and chill it. Big ice keeps the drink bold.  Small ice melts quicker and dilutes the flavour.
  8. To garnish, you can express the oils from an orange peel over the glass to release its aroma, then rub the orange peel around the rim of the glass before dropping it into the cocktail. Alternatively, you can garnish with a cherry or a combination of orange peel and cherry.
  9. Sip and enjoy. Savour the flavour.

Remember, the Old Fashioned is a versatile cocktail, and you can customize it to suit your taste preferences by adjusting the amount of sugar, bitters, or whiskey you use. Enjoy responsibly!

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