When it comes to classic nightcaps, nothing surpasses the old fashioned cocktail. “The old fashioned is a timeless cocktail because it enhances the complex flavors of whiskey with a very simple set of three additional ingredients: sugar, bitters, and water. That’s it,” explains Allan Roth, Glenfiddich Whisky ambassador.
There are many variations to this traditional cocktail, but the three base ingredients generally remain the same. “The water helps make the whiskey more expressive through dilution,” explains Roth. “The bitters enhance a whiskey’s complexity while the sugar enhances the sweetness to round out the balance. In the end, though, an old fashioned will only be as flavorful as the whiskey at its heart.”
If you consider yourself a whiskey connoisseur, take your mixology skills to the next level and try your hand at one of these unique old fashioned recipes. Cheers!
Spiced Persimmon Old Fashioned Cocktail
Salt and Wind's spiced persimmon old fashioned recipe is bursting with sweetness, thanks to the persimmons and a touch of maple syrup. Muddle the slices of orange and persimmon before adding the ice, whiskey, and orange bitters. Garnish the beverage with a cinnamon stick.
Pro Tip: Before plunking the cinnamon stick into your lowball, use the stick to stir the drink. It'll give your old fashioned just a hint of spice.
Bourbon Cherry Old Fashioned
This bourbon cherry old fashioned recipe by Half Baked Harvest calls for cherries, lime, orange bitters, honey, bourbon, and mint. Make sure to muddle the cherries, lime, bitters, and honey to get the most out of the juicy ingredients. Pour the contents over ice, and then top with sparkling water before garnishing with extra cherries and mint leaves.
Pro Tip: "I used a mix of Rainier cherries and Bing, but either or will be delicious, so use what you love," notes Tieghan Gerard, the recipe's developer.
Winter Spiced Old Fashioned
Spoon Fork Bacon's winter spiced old fashioned recipe combines water, cardamom pods, anise, cinnamon, bourbon, orange wedges, and cherries to create a warming drink to sip on a cold day. Simmer the fragrant ingredients over the stove, and then strain your simple syrup. Next, shake the chilled syrup, bourbon, and ice together. Finally, garnish with an orange wedge.
Pro Tip: The simple syrup will need at least an hour to chill, so factor that into your prep time.
Thyme Old Fashioned
Intended to be slowly sipped on a hot summer's day, I Am a Food Blog's summer session old fashioned recipe starts with a thyme-infused simple syrup made from water, sugar, and fresh thyme. Once the syrup has chilled, combine it with orange, grapefruit, bourbon, and bitters. Add sparkling water, pour the cocktail over ice, then garnish with orange twists and a sprig of thyme.
Pro Tip: For maximum thyme flavor, allow the simple syrup to steep for at least 15 minutes.
Apple Butter Old Fashioned
Don’t let the seemingly odd combination intimidate you—Half Baked Harvest's apple butter old fashioned recipe is worth a try. The recipe calls for apple cider, lemon, orange bitters, bourbon, ginger beer, and just a tablespoon of apple butter. Start by shaking up the cider, lemon juice, bitters, apple butter, and bourbon. Then, strain the contents and pour over ice.
Pro Tip: For a little fizz, add a splash of ginger beer or kombucha to the cocktail.
Classic Old Fashioned Recipe
For a more traditional take on the cocktail, try I Am a Food Blog's classic old fashioned recipe. Bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters are added to a glass, then stirred. Ice can be used if the whiskey needs to be diluted.
Pro Tip: Be sure to stir your cocktail before pouring the ingredients over the ice—not after.
Rhubarb Old Fashioned
Even if the brilliant color of CaliGirl Cooking's rhubarb old fashioned doesn't draw you in, the flavors certainly will. Here, tart rhubarb and the complex tasting notes of whiskey find common ground in a light and refreshing cocktail. Garnish with a rhubarb stalk, then sip—but not before pausing first to appreciate the beverage's magenta hue.
Pro Tip: Use the leftover rhubarb simple syrup as a topping for ice cream.
Cotton Candy Old Fashioned
If you want an old fashioned with serious wow factor, keep Sugar & Charm's cotton candy old fashioned recipe in your back pocket. This whimsical recipe starts out the usual way by mixing bourbon, bitters, and muddled orange peel in a glass. But instead of sweetening the cocktail with simple syrup, a puff of orange-flavored cotton candy (made from scratch) is positioned atop the glass, intended to be stirred into the drink before sipping.
Pro Tip: You can use a tabletop cotton candy machine to make the cotton candy, or take a shortcut by going the store-bought route.
Coffee Old Fashioned
Love java as much as you love a good cocktail? Give Sugar & Cloth's coffee old fashioned recipe a try. Bourbon, coffee liqueur, simple syrup, and bitters are shaken with ice, then the mixture is strained into a glass containing a large ice cube. Orange peel is squeezed over top to release its oils, then rubbed around the rim of the glass before being dropped into the cocktail with a few whole coffee beans.
Pro Tip: Coffee liqueur contains caffeine, so think twice before sipping this old fashioned as a nightcap.
Burnt Orange Old Fashioned
The key ingredient in Sugar & Charm's burnt orange old fashioned? Charred citrus. Here, sliced orange rinds are broiled in the oven, enhancing the fragrant oils of the citrus. Next, the peel is perched on the rim of a drinking glass, complementing the glass's contents: a cocktail of burnt orange sugar, bitters, whiskey, and a large ice cube. The result is a sensory experience as the smoky citrus scent is enjoyed with every sip.
Pro Tip: To lighten the drink, add a splash of club soda.
Gingerbread Old Fashioned
With all the flavors of a gingerbread cookie, Hunger Thirst Play's gingerbread old fashioned recipe is sure to be a hit at your next holiday soiree. Molasses, brown and white sugars, ginger, cinnamon, and a few other ingredients are simmered together to create a spicy-sweet syrup, then combined with muddled oranges and cherries and, of course, a couple ounces of whiskey. A garnish of orange peel and fresh candied cherries adds to the cocktail's celebratory flair.
Pro Tip: Use the leftover simple syrup to flavor eggnog, frosting, or coffee.
Maple Apple Old Fashioned
The warm caramel flavors of real maple syrup complement the nuanced tasting notes of whiskey in CaliGirl Cooking's maple apple old fashioned. Apple cider adds sweetness and an autumn vibe to the cocktail, which is garnished with an apple wheel and a cinnamon-sugar rim.
Pro Tip: Use real maple syrup to give the cocktail the best flavor.
Elderflower Old Fashioned Recipe
Used in lieu of sugar-based sweeteners, elderflower liqueur imparts a subtle sweetness to CaliGirl Cooking's elderflower old fashioned. The elderflower's delicate floral notes are contrasted by the zesty brightness of citrus peel, which is rubbed around the rim of the glass before swimming in the bourbon-based beverage.
Pro Tip: Play up the old fashioned's spring theme by garnishing the cocktail with edible fresh flower blossoms, like nasturtium or pansies.
Grapefruit Old Fashioned
Need proof that sage and citrus are a match made in cocktail heaven? Sip the combination in A Cozy Kitchen's grapefruit old fashioned. A sage-infused simple syrup is stirred into a glass with bourbon, bitters, and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Next, a splash of sparkling water and a garnish of grapefruit peel provide the finishing touches.
Pro Tip: If you're not a fan of pulp, strain the grapefruit juice before adding it to the cocktail.
Sweet Bourbon Peach Lemonade
Part raspberry-peach lemonade, part bourbon-based cocktail, Half Baked Harvest's sweet bourbon peach lemonade captures that summer-Friday-at-5 feeling. Fruity lemonade, bourbon, and fresh peaches take a whirl in the blender, resulting in an old fashioned–inspired cocktail with a sweet-meets-sour finish.
Pro Tip: This old fashioned can be prepped ahead of time in a lidded jar or a pitcher—just wait to add the garnishes (fresh peaches and a sprig of thyme) until right before serving.
Tequila Old Fashioned
With blood orange slices providing a gorgeous pop of color, this tequila old fashioned recipe by PheNOMenal Phoods is too pretty to eliminate on the technicality of not really being an old fashioned. Its refreshing formulation of lime juice, tequila, bitters, and ice is the next best thing to a cool breeze on a warm day.
Pro Tip: Leftover simple syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks.
Caramel Apple Old Fashioned
Have a sweet tooth? Add How Sweet Eats's caramel apple old fashioned to your cocktail recipe repertoire. This dessert-like cocktail gets its sweetness from made-from-scratch cider caramel—a decadent, creamy concoction of butter, heavy cream, apple cider, and brown sugar. After the caramel cools, it's added to a glass with bourbon, bitters, and apple cider, then shaken and poured over ice.
Pro Tip: Make the most out of any leftover caramel by using it as a dip for apples or as a topping for ice cream.
Watermelon Old Fashioned
One sip of CaliGirl Cooking's watermelon old fashioned, and you'll have a reason to keep your fridge stocked with the pink-fleshed gourd all summer long. This invigorating cocktail calls for the juices of watermelon and orange, plus the usual suspects: bourbon, bitters, and simple syrup. Pour the mixture over ice, then garnish with an orange slice.
Pro Tip: You can "juice" the watermelon using either an immersion or standard blender.
Vanilla Chai Old Fashioned
Best sipped beside a crackling fire, Half Baked Harvest's vanilla chai old fashioned combines the warming effects of quality bourbon with the earthy, herbal flavor of chai tea. A simple syrup made from maple syrup, chai tea, and vanilla extract adds sweetness, while a garnish of star anise and a cinnamon stick hints at the cocktail's cozy-meets-spicy theme.
Pro Tip: "Make the syrup ahead of time and keep in the fridge to mix up a quick drink in a moment's notice," suggests Tieghan Gerard.
Smoke and Flowers Old Fashioned
Behold: springtime in a glass. Jojotastic's smoke and flowers old fashioned recipe embodies the season with its unique combination of rose simple syrup, flower bitters, whiskey, and lemon peel. Edible flower blossoms add visual interest and hint at the cocktail's theme.
Pro Tip: Joanna Hawley, the recipe's author, recommends Glen Grant 10 Year Old Scotch whiskey for the cocktail.