So you have a taste for the classics, huh? Well, look no further because this article is here to guide you on the delightful journey of making Old Fashioned . There’s something undeniably charming about sipping on these timeless drinks that have stood the test of time. From the smooth bourbon to the muddled sugar and aromatic bitters, crafting an Old Fashioned is an art that’s not to be taken lightly. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a beginner trying to impress your friends, we’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions and insider tips to help you master this drink that has been a favorite amongst connoisseurs for decades. Get ready to elevate your cocktail game to new heights!

How to Make Old Fashioned Cocktails

Choosing the right ingredients

When it comes to making an Old Fashioned cocktail, choosing the right ingredients is crucial to achieving that perfect balance of flavors. Let’s break down the key components and explore how to select the best options for each.

Selecting the whiskey

The foundation of any Old Fashioned is a good quality whiskey. Traditionally, rye whiskey is used, but you can also opt for bourbon if you prefer a slightly sweeter profile. When selecting your whiskey, look for a brand that you enjoy sipping on its own, as this will ensure a delicious cocktail. Experiment with different brands and varieties to find the one that suits your taste buds the best.

Choosing the sweetener

The next crucial ingredient in an Old Fashioned is the sweetener. The most common sweeteners used are simple syrup or sugar cubes. Simple syrup is made by dissolving equal parts water and sugar, creating a convenient liquid sweetener. If you prefer the ritual of muddling a sugar cube, go for it! Some cocktail enthusiasts even like to experiment with alternative sweeteners like maple syrup or honey for a unique twist. Feel free to get creative and find a sweetener that complements your preferred whiskey.

Picking the right bitters

Bitters are an essential element that adds complexity and depth to your Old Fashioned. Angostura bitters are the classic choice and provide a harmonious balance of flavors. However, there is an array of bitters available in the market, each offering its own distinctive taste profile. Explore different options like orange, cherry, or chocolate bitters to give your cocktail a unique twist. Adding a few drops of bitters will enhance the overall complexity of your cocktail.

Adding a citrus twist

To add a refreshing touch to your Old Fashioned, a citrus twist is the perfect finishing touch. You can use either an orange or lemon peel for this step. The citrus oils released when twisting the peel over the glass will contribute to the aroma and flavor of your cocktail. Not only does it elevate the sensory experience, but it also creates an appealing visual element. Choose whichever citrus peel you prefer or even try experimenting with grapefruit or lime for an exciting variation.

Tools and equipment you’ll need

To make an Old Fashioned, you’ll need a few essential tools to ensure a smooth and effortless cocktail-making process. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need:

Mixing glass

A mixing glass is an essential piece of equipment for crafting your Old Fashioned. It allows you to mix and stir the ingredients without compromising their flavors. Look for a sturdy, transparent glass with a wide enough mouth to accommodate a bar spoon and ice cubes comfortably. A mixing glass with measurement markings can also be helpful for precise pouring.


A muddler is an indispensable tool for gently crushing the sugar cube and expressing the flavors of the bitters. Look for a muddler with a comfortable grip and a flat bottom, which provides better control and extraction of flavors. Using a muddler will release the aromatic compounds from the sugar, creating a rich and flavorful base for your cocktail.

Bar spoon

A bar spoon is a long and slender utensil that is essential for stirring your Old Fashioned. Look for a spoon with a twisted handle, as it aids in achieving a smooth and seamless stirring motion. The elongated spoon allows you to reach the bottom of the glass easily, ensuring that all the ingredients are evenly mixed. A bar spoon with a flat end can also double as a muddler in a pinch if you don’t have a separate muddler.


A jigger is a measuring device that ensures accurate and consistent pours of your whiskey and other ingredients. Look for a jigger with clearly marked measurement lines, allowing you to measure out the desired amount efficiently. Whether it’s a classic double-sided jigger with two different measurements or a multi-level jigger with more options, choose one that suits your needs and preferences.


A strainer is necessary to separate the liquid portion of the cocktail from any ice or muddled ingredients. Opt for a Hawthorne strainer, which has a coiled spring around the outer edge, ensuring a tight fit while pouring. This type of strainer will effectively strain out any solid particles, resulting in a smooth and refined drink.

Citrus zester or peeler

To create a citrus twist for garnishing your Old Fashioned, you’ll need a citrus zester or peeler. A zester will allow you to create thin, delicate strips of zest with ease, while a peeler will provide broader and more substantial peel strips. Choose the tool that suits your preference and the desired visual effect for your garnish.

Ice cubes

Ice cubes may seem like an obvious element, but they play a crucial role in the overall experience of your Old Fashioned. It’s important to use good quality ice cubes to avoid diluting the cocktail too quickly. If possible, opt for larger cubes that melt slowly, allowing you to savor your drink gradually without compromising its integrity.

Preparing the glass

Once you have gathered all your tools and ingredients, it’s time to prepare the glass for your Old Fashioned cocktail. Here’s what you need to do:

Choosing the right glassware

The right glassware can elevate the presentation and enjoyment of your cocktail. For an Old Fashioned, the ideal glass is a lowball or rocks glass. These sturdy glasses, often with a heavy bottom, provide stability and a pleasant weight in your hand. The wide opening of the glass allows you to fully appreciate the aromas as you sip. Choose a glass that feels comfortable to hold and fits your personal style.

Adding the ice

Before you start mixing your cocktail, add a few ice cubes to your chosen glass. The ice will chill the glass, creating a refreshing coldness that enhances the drinking experience. Be mindful of the number of ice cubes you add, as it will affect the overall dilution of your drink. A good rule of thumb is to add enough ice cubes to fill about two-thirds of the glass. This will provide a perfect balance of chilling the cocktail without excessively diluting it.

Muddling the ingredients

Muddling is a key step in creating the foundation of an Old Fashioned cocktail. It involves gently crushing the sugar cube and releasing the flavors of the bitters. Here’s how you can do it:

Placing the sweetener and bitters in the glass

First, place your chosen sweetener, whether it’s a sugar cube or simple syrup, at the bottom of the prepared glass. If using a sugar cube, drop it directly into the glass. If using simple syrup, measure out the desired amount and pour it into the glass. Next, add a few dashes of bitters onto the sweetener. The number of dashes depends on your personal preference. Start with three dashes and adjust to taste. The combination of sweetener and bitters sets the foundation of flavors for your cocktail.

Adding a splash of water

To aid in the muddling process, add a splash of water to the glass. The water helps dissolve the sugar and mingles with the bitters, creating a cohesive mixture. The amount of water needed can vary depending on personal taste and the level of sweetness desired. Start with a small splash and increase if necessary.

Muddling gently

Now it’s time to muddle the ingredients together. Place the flat bottom of your muddler on top of the sugar cube and gently press down, applying light pressure. Twisting the muddler slightly will help break down the sugar cube further. Continue muddling until the sugar is mostly dissolved, and the flavors of the bitters are well incorporated. Take care not to over-muddle, as it can result in an overly bitter drink. Remember, a gentle touch is key to achieving the desired balance of flavors.

How to Make Old Fashioned Cocktails

Adding the whiskey

Now that you have a well-muddled mixture, it’s time to add the star of the show – the whiskey. Follow these steps to ensure a precise pour and a perfectly balanced cocktail:

Measuring out the desired amount

Using a jigger, measure out the desired amount of whiskey. The typical measurement for an Old Fashioned is 2 ounces (60 ml). However, feel free to adjust the amount according to your personal taste preferences. If you prefer a stronger cocktail, you can increase the whiskey amount slightly. If you prefer a milder flavor profile, reduce the amount accordingly.

Pouring it into the glass

Once you have measured out the whiskey, pour it into the glass over the muddled mixture. The whiskey will infuse the sweetened and bittered mixture, creating a beautifully balanced cocktail. Take your time while pouring, aiming to evenly distribute the whiskey throughout the glass. This will ensure that every sip delivers a consistent taste experience.

Stirring and dilution

Stirring is a crucial step in an Old Fashioned cocktail to incorporate all the flavors and achieve the desired dilution. Here’s how you can do it properly:

Using a bar spoon to stir the mixture

Insert a bar spoon into the glass, resting the spoon against the inner wall of the glass. Gently rotate the spoon, stirring the mixture in a rhythmic motion. The goal is to mix all the ingredients without incorporating excessive air or ice shards that could dilute the cocktail too quickly. Stir for approximately 20-30 seconds to sufficiently blend the flavors.

Ensuring proper dilution

While stirring, you will notice that the ice in the glass will start to melt. This melting action contributes to the overall dilution of the cocktail, which can mellow the flavors and create a smoother drinking experience. Proper dilution is crucial for achieving balance in an Old Fashioned. Aim for a level of dilution that suits your preference, typically around 20-25% of the glass volume. However, keep an eye on the ice and tasting the drink intermittently until you find your ideal level of dilution.

How to Make Old Fashioned Cocktails

Garnishing the cocktail

Garnishing adds the final touch to an Old Fashioned and enhances both the visual appeal and the aroma of the cocktail. Here’s what you need to do:

Twisting the citrus peel over the glass

Take your chosen citrus peel, whether it’s an orange or lemon peel, and hold it between your thumb and forefinger. Hold it over the glass, with the peel facing towards the drink. Gently squeeze the peel while twisting it over the glass, allowing the essential oils to release. This process adds a burst of fragrance that complements the flavors of the cocktail.

Rubbing the rim with the peel

After twisting the peel over the glass, run the peel around the rim of the glass. This final touch adds a subtle hint of citrus essence to each sip and enhances the overall drinking experience. The aromatic oils in the peel will cling to the rim, subtly infusing the drink with their essence.

Placing the peel in the glass

Once you have twisted and rubbed the peel, place it inside the glass as a garnish. The visual presence of the citrus peel adds an elegant and sophisticated touch to your Old Fashioned. It is a small detail that can make a big difference in the overall enjoyment of your cocktail.

Adding final touches

Before taking your first sip, take a moment to assess and adjust your Old Fashioned to ensure it meets your personal taste preferences. Here are a few final touches you can consider:

Tasting and adjusting

Give your Old Fashioned a quick taste test. Assess the balance of flavors and adjust if needed. If you find the cocktail too sweet, you can add a dash of bitters to counterbalance. Alternatively, if the drink is too strong, you can add a small amount of simple syrup or a sugar cube to sweeten it slightly. Remember, making a cocktail is an art, and personal taste is key in achieving the perfect balance of flavors.

Adding extra ice if needed

If you prefer your Old Fashioned on the rocks and desire a longer-lasting chilled experience, you can add a few more ice cubes to your glass. However, exercise caution not to over-dilute your cocktail. Start with one or two additional cubes and adjust according to your preference.

Garnishing with a cherry (optional)

For an extra touch of elegance and flavor, you can garnish your Old Fashioned with a cherry. Maraschino cherries are the classic choice and add a delightful burst of sweetness. Simply place one cherry on a cocktail pick or skewer and rest it on the rim of the glass. This garnish is entirely optional, and the decision to include it is entirely up to your personal preference.

Serving and enjoying

Your Old Fashioned is now ready to be enjoyed! Here are a few tips on serving and savoring your cocktail:

Using a strainer to pour the cocktail into a fresh glass

If you prefer to have your Old Fashioned without ice shards and muddled ingredients, strain the cocktail into a fresh glass using a Hawthorne strainer. Place the strainer over the mixing glass, and while holding it in place, pour the cocktail from the mixing glass into the fresh glass. The strainer will catch any solid particles, ensuring a clean and refined final drink.

Serving it neat or on the rocks

When it comes to serving your Old Fashioned, you have two options: serving it neat or on the rocks. Neat refers to serving the cocktail without any ice, allowing you to fully savor the flavors and aromas of the drink. On the rocks means serving the cocktail over ice cubes, which gradually dilute the drink as it chills. Choose the serving style that suits your preference and enjoy your beverage accordingly.

Savoring the flavors

Finally, take a moment to appreciate the flavors and aromas of your Old Fashioned cocktail. Slowly sipping on it allows the complex flavors to unfold on your palate, revealing layers of sweetness, warmth, and subtle bitterness. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment, immersing yourself in the experience of enjoying this classic cocktail.

Variations and twists

While the classic Old Fashioned recipe is undeniably delicious, don’t be afraid to experiment with variations and twists to put your own spin on this timeless drink. Here are a few ideas to inspire your creativity:

Experimenting with different whiskies

Whiskies come in various styles and flavors, and each can significantly impact the taste of your Old Fashioned. Try using different types of whiskey, such as rye, bourbon, or even peated scotch, to explore the unique characteristics they bring to the cocktail. Each variety will offer its own distinct flavor profile, allowing you to tailor the Old Fashioned to your personal preferences.

Trying alternative sweeteners

While the classic sweeteners like simple syrup and sugar cubes work perfectly well, feel free to experiment with alternative sweeteners. Maple syrup, honey, or even flavored syrups can add a subtle twist to your Old Fashioned. Be mindful that alternative sweeteners may impact the overall flavor balance, so adjust the amount accordingly to maintain harmony.

Exploring unique bitters combinations

Angostura bitters are the go-to choice for an Old Fashioned, but there is a world of bitters waiting to be explored. Try combining different bitters flavors to create unique combinations that suit your palate. Orange, cherry, chocolate, and even espresso bitters can add intriguing layers of complexity to your cocktail. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to mix and match until you discover your signature combination.

Infusing the cocktail with additional flavors

For an adventurous twist, experiment with infusing your Old Fashioned with additional flavors. Consider adding a few fresh herbs like mint or basil to the muddled mixture to introduce a refreshing herbal note. You can also explore infusing the whiskey with spices like cinnamon or star anise for an aromatic and warm profile. Feel free to let your imagination run wild and create a truly unique version of the classic Old Fashioned.

Remember, making an Old Fashioned is a journey of discovery and enjoyment. Embrace the art of crafting , experiment with different ingredients, and most importantly, have fun along the way. Cheers to creating your perfect Old Fashioned!