How to make the best old-fashioned: Recipe

When out for a night on the town, few things are more enjoyable than a sophisticated bar with a sophisticated drink. What's the king of sophistication, though? Well, the old-fashioned, of course!

The old-fashioned is the granddaddy of all cocktails.
The old-fashioned is the granddaddy of all cocktails.  © Unsplash/Pylyp Sukhenko

Out of the many cocktails that take up space on our menus and in our hearts, the old-fashioned is more than guaranteed to jump out at you.

Sharp, smokey, and a little bit sweet, this is one of the best cocktails to ever grace the face of this Earth.

How do you make the ultimate old-fashioned at home, though? With this recipe, you'll be impressing all your friends.

How to make the best old-fashioned: Recipe

A good old-fashioned is a real thing of beauty. It's almost crisp in its taste, with a sour tang and a slight sweetness that rounds out the flavor of your chosen Bourbon perfectly. You don't need to go super fancy for your old-fashioned to shine either; it's simply about the ratios, the way you mix, and getting it nice and cold.

Here's the equipment you will need when making an old-fashioned:

  • A whiskey glass
  • A shaker
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Mixing stick
  • Small knife
  • Chopping board
  • Small pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Big ice maker
  • Measuring utensils, i.e., shot glasses
  • Long cigarette lighter, matches, or a kitchen blowtorch

There's no especially complicated stuff needed when making an old-fashioned, just the basics of a cocktail set and a kitchen.

The old-fashioned is easy to make, super sophisticated, and incredibly tasty.
The old-fashioned is easy to make, super sophisticated, and incredibly tasty.  © Unsplash/Adam Jaime

Old-fashioned recipe | Ingredients

When making an old-fashioned, many people make a few minor mistakes along the way. The first and most glaring is when people decide that they'll buy some simple syrup from the supermarket. This is a complete waste of money and something that's easily solved.

These are the ingredients you will need for an old-fashioned:

  • Bourbon whiskey, 3 ounces (2 shots)
  • Angostura bitters, 3–4 dashes
  • Simple syrup, 1/2 oz, or make your own:
    • Water, 1/4 oz
    • Sugar, 1/4 oz
    • Equal parts water and sugar, make a larger batch and cool it beforehand, as described, then use half an ounce.
  • Orange rind
  • Ice (some small cubes and one giant cube)

On the proportions: The amounts set out in this recipe are designed to make a single drink. While usually we would say to increase or decrease the quantities if making more or less, in the case of a cocktail we would suggest that you don't make it in big batches but instead make each drink individually.

Old-fashioned recipe | Instructions

To make a good old-fashioned, you need to choose a Bourbon whiskey that's of a higher quality. While you can pass by using Jack Daniel's or something similar, you won't have a truly fantastic cocktail unless you go for a higher-quality brand or even something a little special.

Of course, it's not necessary to go for something incredibly fancy. You are watering this down with other flavors and ice, so don't use your most expensive single malt. Choose something rich and bold but balanced on the tongue, with an oak-like finish, but don't waste your best liquor.

Here's how to make the perfect old-fashioned

Step 1: Well in advance, prepare your simple syrup. This is just equal parts water and sugar. What we recommended in the ingredients list will make enough for one drink, but you probably want more.

Step 2: Measure out your sugar – we'd recommend about a cup – and put the sugar in your pot. Add the same amount of water that there is sugar, in this case, a cup, and then slowly heat up the water. Stir continuously and watch the sugar crystals.

Step 3: Don't bring it to a rolling boil; instead, keep stirring until all the sugar crystals have dissolved and you can't see any grains in the water.

If you're interested: You can actually infuse the water while doing this if you want to add a bit of complexity to the drink. We would recommend putting some rosemary in the water as you make the simple syrup.

Step 4: Once the simple syrup is ready, decant it into a jar and let it cool down in the fridge.

Step 5: Using a small knife on a cutting board, slice a long strip of orange rind from around the center of the orange, getting it as long as you can.

Step 6: With the side of the knife, push down on the orange rind to release some of the oils. Place the rind on a non-flammable surface and scorch it with your lighter or blow torch, burning off the oils and creating a smokey taste and smell.

Step 7: Put the orange rind in your glass, along with the large ice cube.

Step 8: Put two small ice cubes in your shaker, along with a few dashes of Angostura bitters, your whiskey, and your homemade simple syrup. Shake it together thoroughly until very cold.

Step 9: Pour the mixture over the ice cube and rearrange the orange rind so that it looks nice in the glass. Enjoy!

A good old-fashioned is rimmed nicely with some orange and tastes a little smokey, with a strong citrus note that lingers on the tongue. It's not hard, as you can see, but it will take a few attempts.

What to eat with the best old-fashioned

There's no need to eat anything with your old-fashioned.
There's no need to eat anything with your old-fashioned.  © Unsplash/Daniel Herron

Ultimately, you don't need to enjoy your old-fashioned with a meal, as it is more of an after-dinner treat to have over a game of checkers. If you do want to drink it with some food, however, you can't skimp. This isn't a drink to have with a bag of chips, nor is it something to wash down with a Twix bar! No, my friends, this is a red meat occasion.

Here's what we would recommend that you eat with your fantastic and classy Bourbon old-fashioned:

  • A beef carpaccio, preferably with horseradish and rocket
  • Sliders with pork or beef
  • Steak tartar
  • A good quality sausage roll seasoned with plenty of rosemary
  • Puff pastry with melted cheese and chorizo inside
  • A good beef steak, grilled to medium-rare
  • Roasted almonds
  • Scotch eggs or deviled eggs
  • Chicken wings
  • Steaming hot porchetta
  • Dark chocolate with nuts and sultanas

Is there anything better than a good old-fashioned during a great night out? Well, to be honest, we highly doubt it. Try out our recipe, though, and you won't need to make the trip.

Cover photo: Unsplash/Pylyp Sukhenko

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