Old Fashioned cocktail

All you need to know about the original whiskey cocktail. 

The Old Fashioned recalls a simpler time of no-nonsense, spirit-forward cocktail drinking. The essence of the earliest definition of the word cocktail’ – comprising spirit, sugar, water and bitters – this classic emerged in the mid-to-late 1800s in opposition to new-fangled cocktail additions such as maraschino or absinthe. Gimme an old-fashioned Whisky Cocktail,” a patron would say, curbing the enthusiasm of an eager barkeep.

For all its simplicity, theres no shortage of nuance and customisation here. Theres the spirit, of course, with bourbon and rye at the forefront, but variations using other aged spirits too. Sugar comes in syrup or cube form, with demerara and the like to choose from, and theres a vast array of bitters to incorporate, singly or in combination. Then theres the garnish, mercifully limited to orange or lemon zest nowadays. Gone, mostly, are the dark days of muddled fruit Old Fashioneds – too fancy for this humble drink.

VIDEO DEMO by Tristan Stephenson: How to make an Old Fashioned


  • 45ml bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Few dashes Angostura bitters
  • Few dashes plain water

Stir and strain into rocks glass over ice, or just build the drink directly. Garnish with an orange twist or slice.