Summer means it’s cocktail season. For me, there is a holy trinity of cocktails; The Negroni, The Old Fashioned and The Espresso Martini. While I enjoy many other cocktails (those who have followed me for a while will remember my youthful twitter days where I professed ‘Make me a mojito and I’m yours’ in my bio), these three cocktails never fail to hit the spot. I love the balance of an Old Fashioned, it’s subtle sweetness makes it easier to consume than a straight whiskey on the rocks, but it still gives you that hit of booze you need after a long day. It’s a drink you’re happy to savour, instead of sugary cocktails you neck quicker than it took to earn the money to pay for it. Keep reading to learn how to make and Old Fashioned yourself.

The Old Fashioned we know today was developed during the 1880s, but similar recipes were seen emerging much earlier. It’s been in and out of fashion ever since, with it’s most recent resurgence thanks to it’s uncountable appearances in shows like Mad Men. With the rise in popularity of ‘cocktails with the girls’ thanks to show alike Sex and the City, the Old Fashioned gave men a way to get in on the action without needing a coupe glass and an umbrella.

How to make an Old Fashioned

While it is sometimes now made with brandy (but let’s not indulge that), an Old Fashioned should be made with whiskey, preferably Bourbon whiskey like my favourite Woodford Reserve.  The Old Fashioned is made by muddling sugars with bitters, then adding to the whiskey, finished with a twist of citrus rind served in a short tumbler-like glass or rocks glass, but many hipster places will serve it in whatever is likely to garner an Instagram share. There also some place that will serve it actual smoke too to add to the theatre of the drink.


Best Old Fashioned recipe

Recommended serve: Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned
Glass: Rocks/Old Fashioned
Ice: Cubed
Method: Stir
Garnish: Orange Twist and/or a maraschino cherry
Ingredients: 50ml Woodford Reserve, 10ml sugar syrup, 3 dashes of angostura bitters
Method: Add the sugar syrup to the glass with the bitters. Add roughly 1/3 of the Woodford Reserve with 3 ice cubes and stir. Keep repeating until the Woodford Reserve is finished. Garnish and serve. If you decide to use actual sugar, place one cube into the glass and wet with the bitters, roll the glass to coat the base, add ice and then the whiskey and serve with a stirring spoon.


Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.