The cocktail of cocktails.

Nearly stomped out of existence by its fruity mid-20th-century counterpart (see: New Old-Fashioned), the true Old-Fashioned is as traditional as they come. A simple mix of spirits, sugar, bitters and water, it appears in 1806 as the first printed recipe for a cocktail (“cock tail”). Other alcohols were permitted, but the whiskey or rye version of this combination, over ice, is what we now know as the Old Fashioned, thought to be named later that century after more elaborate new-fangled cocktails entered the canon. During Prohibition, the recipe veered into odd territory, adding fruit and cherries to distract from the available crude spirits. After repeal, it was the imposter version that stuck until the recent cocktail revival brought the original recipe back from the brink of extinction.


Serving: 1

  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube (see Editor's Note below)
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • splash warm water (if using sugar cube or sugar)

Garnish: orange peel

  1. In a double rocks glass, muddle the sugar cube or sugar with Angostura bitters and a small splash of warm water until dissolved.
  2. If using simple syrup, swirl with bitters in a double rocks glass.
  3. Add whiskey and ice (preferably an oversized cube) and stir well.
  4. Garnish with an orange peel.
Editor's Note

It’s matter of preference, but to us nothing beats the burn of a spicy rye Old Fashioned. If you’re going for it, Rittenhouse is our rye of choice. If you don't have sugar cubes on hand, a teaspoon of sugar or a heaping 1/4 ounce of simple syrup will do the trick.

Tagged: bourbon, rye, whiskey