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Bourbon Old Fashioned

The Bourbon Old Fashioned isn’t much more than a bit of whiskey that’s been sweetened, with some seasoning added.

old fashioned cocktail with cocktail cherry and orange peel garnish

Some people think of it as primarily a way to hide cheap whiskey, but it’s actually a great drink all on its own. In fact, it’s one of the oldest cocktails out there that’s still in fashion.


The idea of this cocktail goes back all the way to 1806.

At the time, the Whiskey Cocktail was a very popular morning drink: a cure for headaches, nausea, and other symptoms of a hangover. Today we’d call this “hair of the dog that bit you,” but at the time it was considered a sophisticated way for alcoholics to manage life and remain functional.

To make it, bartenders would just throw some sugar, bitters, and ice into whiskey, and it was so popular that every bartender had their own version.

The version closest to what we call an Old Fashioned today was made by James Pepper in 1880. He was a bartender at a private Kentucky social club, and when he moved to New York and went to work at the Waldorf-Astoria, he took his recipe with him. Naturally, anything being served at the Waldorf-Astoria was a hit, and this was the original Old Fashioned.

Since then, the drink has had its ups and downs. The zenith of its popularity came in 1880, when a despised New York politician by the name of Samuel Tilden withdrew from an election, prompting drunken celebrations that heavily favored the Old Fashioned, as well as hot whiskey.

See also  Mint Julep

The drink very nearly died out during Prohibition but has revived since.

How To Make It

Learn to make a classic Old Fashioned with these step-by-step instructions.

how to make an old fashioned graphic


  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 3-4 Dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 Ounces Bourbon
  • 1 Orange peel for (Garnish)
  • 1 Brandied cherry (Garnish)


  1. Add sugar to a mixing glass.
old fashioned sugar in mixing glass

2. Add three to four dashes of angostura bitters.

adding bitters to old fashioned mix

3. Measure and pour in 2 ounces of bourbon into mixing glass

pouring bourbon into mixing glass for old fashioned

4. Add ice and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the drink is diluted.

stirring old fashioned cocktail

5. Strain and pour your cocktail into an old fashioned glass with one large ice cube.

pouring an old fashioned into an old fashioned glass

6. Express an orange peel along the edge of the glass and add to glass as a garnish, along with a cocktail cherry.

adding cocktail cherry for old fashioned garnish

7. Enjoy!


Since the Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail, there are lots of variations and twists that bartenders have come up with over the years. Here are some of our favorite riffs on the Bourbon Old Fashioned:

Choosing Your Whiskey

Bourbon is a type of whiskey, and it’s a popular choice for an Old Fashioned. The difference between bourbon and whiskey is that bourbon is usually sweeter, and that’s because, to qualify as a bourbon, a drink has to be made from 51% or more corn mash, with no additives or coloring, and must be aged in charred oak barrels.

See also  8 Different Types of Whiskey Glasses To Use

Any high quality bourbon can make a great Old Fashioned cocktail – if you have a favorite bourbon brand, give it a try! You can also find our favorite whiskeys for making Old Fashioneds here.

You should use a quality bourbon in an Old Fashioned so that the smooth flavors shine through, but it doesn’t have to be expensive! There are plenty of inexpensive bourbon brands that still taste great.

old fashioned cocktail with cocktail cherry and orange peel garnish

Bourbon Old Fashioned

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

If you prefer a sweeter whiskey in your Old Fashioned cocktail, try out this classic Bourbon Old Fashioned recipe to sip and savor.


  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 2 Ounces Bourbon
  • 2 Dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 Orange peel for (Garnish)
  • 1 Brandied cherry (Garnish)


      1. Add sugar and bitters to a rocks glass and stir
      2. Add a few large ice cubes, add bourbon and stir
      3. Rub orange peel around glass rim then drop into the glass
      4. Add brandied cherry as garnish
      5. Serve and enjoy

Did you make this recipe?

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Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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