The Old Fashioned is one of the most basic and enduring whiskey cocktails, in large part because of its simplicity. Built around three core ingredients, it provides ample space for bartenders to let their imaginations soar and riff on the building blocks.
“Old Fashioned cocktails before Prohibition called for any spirit of choice, a little bit of bitters, a touch of sugar, and a citrus twist,” said Sam Nelis, beverage director at Landcrafted Bar at Barr Hill Distillery. “I personally prefer mine with bourbon, but I also like to get creative and use other aged spirits.”
Those who love this classic whiskey cocktail, particularly bourbon fans, are in luck. There’s a wide array of bourbon-based cocktails, including riffs on the classic Old Fashioned, that you can make yourself at home. We asked some top bartenders to provide some bourbon cocktail recipes that are easy to make, and here are ten of the best.
Smoky Mustard Seed Maple Hot Toddy
- 1.5 oz Town Branch Bourbon
- .75 mustard seed maple syrup
- .5 fresh lemon juice
- 3 oz hot water
Float 1 oz Fever Tree Elderflower
Garnish with mustard seeds and lemon grass leaves
Method: Mix all ingredients in an 8-oz glass.
Inspiration: "My inspiration for this drink is a memory of camping by the firepit, and the rushing river full of kokanee salmon sending me into a slumber. Of course, a hot toddy made with Town Branch Bourbon is the preferred sendoff into peaceful dreaming.”
Created by Deke Dunne, manager and bartender at Allegory at the Eaton Hotel, Washington, DC
- 1 oz Angel’s Envy Bourbon
- 1 oz Real McCoy 5 Year Aged Rum
- .25 oz demerara syrup
- Teaspoon Faretti Biscotti Liqueur
- 3 drops salt solution*
*Bring one cup of water to a boil. Once boiling, at one teaspoon of salt. Stir until fully incorporated. Let cool and put into a dropper bottle. Can store in dry storage.
Method: Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 30-40 seconds. Strain cocktail into a glass and grate a fresh espresso bean over the top. Take a fresh orange peel and express the peel oil over the top of the cocktail. Twist the peel and garnish your drink.
Inspiration: “There are few spirits in this world that pair better than bourbon and aged rum. What better cocktail to showcase their synergy than a cocktail inspired by the Old Fashioned? The toasted vanilla of the bourbon will sing next to soft caramel and amber honey of the aged rum.”
Created by Sam Nelis, Beverage Director at Landcrafted Bar at Barr Hill Distillery
- 1 oz bourbon
- 1 oz Cynar
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz lemon juice
Method: Combine in mixing tin, shake, double strain into cocktail glass. No garnish needed.
My Kentucky Aperitif
- 1.5 oz oz Michter's Bourbon
- .75 oz Vermouth Rosso del Professore
- Dash chocolate bitters
- Dash orange bitters
Method: Stir over ice, strain and pour into a martini glass. Serve chilled with orange peel and cherry.
Created by Shannon Tebay of Death & Co, NYC
- 1.75 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- .25 oz Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
- .5 tsp Caol Ila Single Malt Scotch
- 1 tsp Mathilde Poire
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Method: Stir over ice and strain into Sazerac glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Courtesy of Bank & Bourbon, Philadelphia
- 2 oz coffee-infused whiskey
- .5 oz simple syrup
- Dash of orange bitters
- Lemon and orange zest garnish
Method: Stir in a shaker over ice, pour into glass and serve straight up.
Don't Call Me Old Fashioned (Smoked Old Fashioned)
Created by Josh Gause, bar manager at Husk Barbeque, Greenville, SC
- 2 oz bourbon
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 dash Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
- 1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters
- 1/2 dash Scrappy's Chocolate Bitters
- .25 oz smoked demerara sugar cordial*
*Spread demerara sugar over a small shallow cookie sheet pan about ¼-inch high, and put plastic wrap all the way around the pan leaving a small space to put whatever smoking gun tool you have. We use hickory (very small wood chips are preferable) to put in the top slot of the smoking gun, and a small cinnamon stick. Turn the gun on, and then light the wood and cinnamon stick, letting the smoke go into the plastic-wrapped pan with the sugar inside, holding it in for as long as you can. Then seal the wrap when you remove the smoking gun hose. Let sit for two hours.
Method: Add all ingredients in a mason jar full of ice and stir for 20 seconds. Express orange peel over glass and drop it in the jar. Hold the mason jar cap partly open to put the Breville smoking gun hose in and thoroughly smoke the inside. Screw the cap on trapping the smoke and shake according to your preference of dilution.
Buzzing Around Old Town
Created by Allison Strunk, General Manager and Executive Bourbon Steward, The Alexandrian, Alexandria, VA
- 1.25 oz Larceny Bourbon
- 1.25 oz Averna Amaro
- .25 oz Amaretto
- .25 oz orange juice
- 2 oz cold brew coffee
- Toasted marshmallow
Method: Add all ingredients into a shaker and add ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a toasted marshmallow.
Apple Pie Old Fashioned
Created by Kelly Verardo, bartender at Osteria Morini, NYC
- 2 oz Jim Beam Black Label
- .5 oz apple pie syrup*
- 2 dashes of aromatic bitters
*Bring three cups of apple cider to a simmer with three sticks of cinnamon, one teaspoon whole cloves, one teaspoon lightly crushed star anise, and .25 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Reduce by half, let cook, then strain.
Method: Stir ingredients together, strain over fresh ice in glass. Garnish with orange peel studded with cloves.
Created by Claire Chan, owner of Bar Beau in Brooklyn, NY
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- .25 oz Luxardo
- .25 oz Creme de Cacao
- .5 oz lime juice
- .5 oz ginger syrup
- 2 dashes Chinese Bitters
Method: Combine ingredients and shake over ice. Strain into Collins glass with ice and top with soda. Garnish with candied ginger.
Courtesy of Bas Rouge, Bluepoint Hospitality, Easton, MD
- 2 oz Wathen’s Bourbon
- 1 oz Nardini Amaro
- 3 drops Bogart’s Bitters
Method: Combine ingredients in mixing glass, add ice, stir and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a cherry, if desired.
A Texas Hye
Created by Steve McHugh, chef/owner of Cured, San Antonio, Texas
- 2 oz Garrison Brothers Texas Bourbon
- .5 oz dry vermouth
- .5 oz sweet vermouth
- .25 oz Fernet
- .35 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Method: Combine all ingredients, stir with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange coin.