The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail and one of my absolute favorites. This drink has roots that reach all the way back to the beginning of the 19th century. Originally made by mixing bitters, sugar, water, and a variety of liquors (rum. gin, brandy), today it is generally approached as a whiskey cocktail: mixing with Bourbon will yield a sweeter drink, while rye will provide a drier flavor.
Your classic Old Fashioned is a very simple cocktail made with Bourbon (I prefer Bulleit for these drinks), bitters, sugar or simple syrup, a slice or rind of orange, ice, a splash of water or seltzer, and topped with a cherry. Some prefer to muddle the sugar, bitters, orange, and cherry together, then pour on a few fingers of Bourbon. However, I like my drinks free from the fruit and opt for a cleaner presentation.
Here is how I make my perfect, classic Old Fashioned:
- 2 parts Bulleit Bourbon
- 1-2 tsp simple syrup (Adjust sugar for taste. A sugar cube or loose sugar can also be used, but I prefer the syrup as it prevents any graininess in your drink.)
- 3 dashes bitters (Generally I use traditional Angostura bitters, but this can easily be jazzed up with a flavored bitter. Check out Fee Brothers for interesting varieties.)
- 1 cherry
- 1 slice orange rind
To begin, place simple syrup or sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Add bitters and a splash of water if using sugar. Stir/muddle to combine bitters and sugars. Turn the sugar mixture in the glass to coat the sides. Add Bourbon and ice. Twist the orange rind (or if you want to look extra fancy, use a lighter to take a flame across the peel to release the oils) and add to glass. Top with a cherry. Drink up!
Though I love the traditional Old Fashioned, even the classics can use an update on occasion. To give this drink a summer seasonal twist, I mix up Old Fashioneds in the swelling summer months with the refreshing, fruity addition of fresh blueberries and peach bitters. This twist is very easy and follows the same steps as the previous recipe with a few small changes:
You’ll need a pint of blueberries (I use 12-15 per drink) and a bottle of Peach Bitters. No need to bring along cherry and orange for this one.
Muddle blueberries, simple syrup, and bitters. Add Bourbon and ice. Garnish with a swizzle stick of blueberries or a fresh peach slice. For a cleaner presentation, strain the cocktail over ice to remove any seeds or flesh from the berries.
This Blueberry Peach Old Fashioned is the perfect cocktail for patio drinking on a hot summer day. It’s both refreshing and refined, and delivers a dose of healthy antioxidants! Try playing around with your favorite seasonal fruits to create your very own signature cocktail. Enjoy!