Old fashioned: Traditionally made muddled bitters-soaked sugar cube

Saturday, October 9th, 2021 00:00 |
Kentucky river. PHOTO/COURTESY

Traditionally made with either bourbon or rye whiskey, a dose of sugar (either via simple syrup or a muddled bitters-soaked sugar cube), Angostura aromatic bitters, and some ice to chill and dilute, the Old Fashioned cocktail has been a mainstay at bars for more than a century, and is one of the most popular cocktails in the world.

Its standard template of spirit, sugar, bitters, and water embodies the definition of the word “cocktail”, which first appeared in print in 1806 in the newspaper The Balance and Columbian Repository.

In the early 1800s, the Old Fashioned was consumed without ice as an eye-opening tonic first thing in the morning, but it eventually went on to become a more sophisticated cocktail served at bars, especially once ice became normalised in the 1860s.

The more simplified version has come back into favour in current times, but many bartenders take a crack at adding their own twist to the cocktail.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the classic bourbon Old Fashioned or a newcomer to the drink, you’ll enjoy these bourbon-based riffs on it that showcase the flavourful breadth and depth of this cocktail.

Kentucky river


• 60ml bourbon

• 15ml crème de cacao

• 3 dashes peach bitters

• Large ice cube (2-inch)

• Garnish: lemon twist


• Add all ingredients into a double Old Fashioned glass with a large 2-inch ice cube and stir.

• Garnish with a lemon twist.

Expense of honesty


• 30ml bourbon

• 45ml rum

• 1 tsp honey

• 1 tsp demerara sugar

• 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

• Ice

• Large ice cube for serving

• Garnish: orange twist


• Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled.

• Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube.

• Garnish with an expressed orange twist.



• 45ml mezcal

• 15ml bourbon

• 2 barspoons orgeat sweet syrup

• 1 dash Angostura bitters

• 1 dash chocolate bitters

• Ice

• Garnish: cranberry, grated cinnamon and orange twist


• Add the mezcal, bourbon, orgeat, Angostura bitters and chocolate bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

• Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice.

• Garnish with a cranberry, grated cinnamon and an orange twist.

Bourbon & berries


• 60ml bourbon

• 1 barspoon strawberry-vanilla syrup*

• 3 dashes Angostura bitters

• Ice cubes

• 1 large ice cube

• Garnish: orange twist

Bourbon & berries.


• Add all the ingredients to a double rocks glass filled with 1 large ice cube and stir for 18 to 20 seconds, then add a few more ice cubes.

• Express the oil of an orange peel, and drop the peel in the glass.

 *Strawberry-vanilla syrup: Add 1 cup water, 1 cup granulated sugar and the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean to a saucepan. Bring to a low simmer until sugar dissolves, then add 2 cups sliced strawberries and simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, mash strawberries and let cool. Strain out solids and store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. -

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