I can’t believe it took me this long to write up the Old Fashioned Cocktail. I completely just assumed that I’d done it in the first couple of weeks that the site existed since I talk about it so much.

The Old Fashioned Cocktail is traditionally made with Rye Whiskey. The Savoy Cocktail book (1930) lists:

1 lump of sugar

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

2oz Rye Whisky [sic]

Crush sugar and Bitters together, add a lump of ice, decorate with a twist of lemon peel and a slice of orange using medium-size glass, and stir well. This Cocktail can be made with Brandy, Gin, Rum etc., instead of Rye Whisky

While many still make the Old Fashioned Cocktail in this way, I personally prefer to use Simple Syrup in place of the sugar lump. This is for a couple of reasons – solid sugar is a pain to dissolve in a spirit, which often leaves a sickly sweet sludge at the bottom of these drinks when made with a lump or spoon of sugar.

Also if you make this drink, taste it and decide it’s perfectly balanced, then serve it to your guest who prefers it a little sweeter, its far, far easier to adjust with a little syrup. I’m sure I’ll get destroyed for my comments, but that’s my opinion. If you have a compelling reason for why you choose to make yours differently, I’d love to hear it!


The Old Fashioned Cocktail is served in (you guessed it) an Old Fashioned glass (or a rocks glass in a pinch).

Old Fashioned Cocktail Ingredients

Mixing an Old Fashioned Cocktail

Build and stir ingredients in the Old Fashioned Glass over ice. Garnish with an expressed twist of orange peel.

While the water from ice diluting into an Old Fashioned Cocktail is thought of as a part of the drink, and the reason that the taste of the drink develops as you drink it, if you use chipped ice or similar, I find it melts too quickly. I personally enjoy using either Large Ice Cubes (around a 2″ cube is ideal) or even better ice spheres which have the same volume as the large cubes but a lower surface area, reducing dilution even further.

The Old Fashioned can also be made (as mentioned in the Savoy Cocktail Book) with other dark spirits to give some great variations – try it with a good barrel aged rum or Scotch (Monkey Shoulder is great in the Old Fashioned Cocktail).

On muddling fruit in an Old Fashioned Cocktail…

Just… don’t.

While I know a lot of bartenders muddle an orange slice and a cherry in the Old Fashioned cocktail (which is often discarded just leaving the juices in the glass) I am personally not a fan of this. See my conversation with Russell Davis from Bar Rescue on the subject)

Of course, if your brand standard recipe does call for this, this is how it should be served in your bar. While I feel the practice is outdated, the way to address this with your brand is to talk to whoever deals with your menus, not take it upon yourself to serve the drink differently.

*Links to ingredients in online stores may include affiliate links for which BartenderHQ receives a commission, supportingĀ in the running of this website.

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