Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe With Simple Syrup

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Why You Will Love This Diy Drink

How to Make Simple Syrup for any Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe
  • Simple to Make
  • Just as good as ordering from the bar
  • Great for serving up guests
  • A great drink for a night at home
  • Classic Recipe

The first thing I do is work on the simple syrup portion.

  • You will mix it up in a saucepan and cook for around 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool down.
  • Now to make your Old Fashioned cocktail, add in your bitters, apple and orange juice, and bourbon. Add in the homemade simple syrup you made.
  • Pour ice and top with the old-fashioned mix. Garnish with spices and herbs and sip away!
  • Pour ice and top with the old-fashioned mix. Garnish with spices and herbs and sip away!

    Sugar Cube Or Simple Syrup

    Old Fashioned purists say the proper thing to do is to muddle a sugar cube with the bitters in the bottom of the rocks glass. Non-purists, like myself, think that’s nice but the sugar never seems to fully dissolve this way. Either my muddling skills are weak , or there might be another way.

    I’m in favor of using simple syrup for an Old Fashioned because it’s easy and convenient. Here’s how to make it.

    Making The Old Fashioned

    Once you have your simple syrup, its time to pick out a whiskey. Because of the floral notes in this earl grey old fashioned, I would go with a whiskey thats not over 100 proof. Its also best with a whiskey that already has oak notes in it since the simple syrup will have some of the drying flavor of black tea. I preferred this cocktail with bourbon over rye, as the rye I was using had some grassy notes to it that didnt play well with the Earl Grey syrup.

    However, it might work if you were using a 51% rye mash bill rye whiskey where the flavor was closer to a bourbon.

    This is going to be a simple cocktail to construct in a mixing glass. I do add Earl Grey bitters and Meyer Lemon bitters to the cocktail. If you can find the lemon bitters they add a great bright citrus component that evokes the scent of a lemon peel floating in a warm cup of tea. Add ice, stir, strain into a chilled glass and enjoy.

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    A Classic For Everyone

    The beauty of a classic old-fashioned recipe is there’s one for everyone. Each subtle little twist creates the perfect cocktail. So whether you go back to the beginning with a sugar cube and splash of water or stick to the modern simple syrup and bitters, it’s well worth learning your way around this classic.

    Elements Of An Old Fashioned

    Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned

    Whiskey: Both rye and bourbon offer different flavor profiles. Bourbon is slightly sweeter and rounder, whereas rye introduces a peppery bite. Either way, youll want something high in proof as this extra alcohol will stand up to the dilution from melting ice.

    Try: Knob Creek, W.L. Weller Antique, Bookers, Old Grand-Dad, Bakers, Wild Turkey 101, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, or Rittenhouse.

    Glass: The Old Fashioned is one of the few drinks in existence that has a glass named in its honor. The ideal glass should be between eight to 10 ounces, with a thick heavy bottom.

    Ice: This is a sipping cocktail, but you dont want that expensive booze turning into a watery mess. Avoid small cubes and pick up rubber molds or invest in an ice sphere.

    Sweetener: While simple syrup works well, other options are to sub in honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. But, make sure to dilute these with equal parts water.

    Bitters: There are dozens of new bitters on the market. The best, however, is still the most common: Angostura. Two healthy dashes will do the trick. Chocolate or walnut bitters work well in this drink if you can find them. I also like Dale DeGroffs pimento bitters.

    Technique: The most balanced Old Fashioned is made by stirring the drink with ice for about 20 to 30 seconds and then straining that mix over fresh ice.

    Garnish: Orange twist, lemon twist, or both.

    Pegu Club’s Old Fashioned

    2 dashes Angostura bittersOrange twist

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    Smoking Rosemary Old Fashioned Recipe

    The Smoking Rosemary Old Fashioned is a simple way to add extra taste and beauty to your drink without needing too much attention.


    • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • 4-5 sprigs of rosemary to make rosemary simple syrup

    To make rosemary simple syrup:

  • Combine ½ cup of water and 4-5 rosemary springs to a light simmer in a saucepan.
  • Add ½ cup of sugar, stirring until dissolved.
  • Keep the pan on low heat for 5 minutes, then remove from heat to cool the syrup.
  • Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer, removing any extra rosemary springs.

    • Add 2oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aromatic Angostura Bitters, ½ oz rosemary simple syrup, and ice into a mixing glass
    • Stir, then strain into an old fashioned glass with ice
    • Garnish with an orange peel, luxardo cherry, and smokey rosemary sprig

    Ice For An Old Fashioned

    Ice serves a basic purpose a way to make a cold drink. But it also has the ability to elevate a drink to bar-style quality. You have a few options with your ice, but we have a preferred one for an Old Fashioned. Heres what we tested:

    • Use your standard ice cube to make the drink/fill the glass
    • Use small square cubes
    • Use large square cubes
    • Our favorite: Use clear square cubes

    A quick note on clear ice cubes. They melt slower and keep your drink cooler. Making clear ice cubes isnt as easy as it sounds. Some of it comes down to the purity of the water, but the real trick to making clear ice at home is slowly chilling the water.

    We tested multiple makers to do this at home and by far our favorite was the True Cubes ice mold.

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    Bitters Orange And Cherries

    We add two to three dashes of bitters. Our standby is Angostura bitters, but one look in a well stocked store or online proves there are lots to experiment with.

    Depending on who makes it, the amount of fruit added to an Old Fashioned varies. Weve seen everything from multiple slices of orange and an abundance of cherries muddled together then served in the glass to an Old Fashioned with no fruit whatsoever.

    We like somewhere in between. A 2-inch piece of orange or blood orange peel and a cherry and were happy.

    If were feeling feisty, well go for a flaming orange twist. To do it, take a coin-sized slice of orange peel , squeeze it between your fingers and light a match or lighter next to it .

    The oils will spark and flame out. If you do all of this close to or over the glass, a toasted orange aroma will fall down over the drink. We dont add the flamed peel to the drink, but rubbing the flamed peel around the rim of the glass is a nice touch.

    The flavor and aroma of the drink really changes and while we dont do this all the time, its fun to experience the difference.

    About The Classic Old

    How to make old fashioned simple syrup

    The classic old-fashioned has evolved over the years. After first making an appearance in the 1800s, it contained a spirit , bitters, water, and sugar. Soon, bartenders began to change the recipe. Some added orange liqueur or absinthe in varying proportions.

    There was no set garnish until the early 1900s, before the traditional orange slice and cherry began to be considered. Still, each bar dictated its own individual garnish. Some would muddle the fruits with a sugar cube and bitters for a slightly fruitier flavor.

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    Add 2 Fl Oz Of Simple Syrup To The Bottle

    I use agave or pure maple syrup in my OFs, but you could always buy or make regular simple syrup at home.

    Why the additional splash? To answer that, we gotta do a little bit of math.

    • Rule of thumb is 0.25 fl oz of simple syrup for every 3 fl oz of whiskey .
    • A 750mL bottle is 25 fl oz.

    So if were trying to figure out how much simple syrup to add:

    • 25 fl oz bottle / 3 fl oz = a bit more than 8 fl oz
    • 8 fl oz * 0.25 fl oz = 2 fl oz of simple syrup for a 750mL bottle

    Got it?

    The main thing you have to remember for batch making Old Fashioneds is that for a regular 750mL size bottle of whiskey, you have to add 2 fl oz of simple syrup.

    Oh, and as a reminder, this is a rule of thumb. Based on your tastes, you may need to add more simple but in my experience this amount is a safe bet and the cocktails came out perfectly.

    The Pendennis Club Myth

    For decades, the creation of the old-fashioned was attributed to the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky. David Wondrich points out in his book “Imbibe!” that this is false: The club opened in 1881, but a year before that, “old-fashioned cocktails” were mentioned in the Chicago Tribune. There was even an “ambiguous newspaper squib” that mentioned old-fashioned drinks as early as 1869.

    In truth, the old-fashioned formula dates back to the 1850s, if not earlier. It was made with whiskey, brandy, or gin . It was quite simply liquor, sugar , and ice. Add bitters, and you have the original definition of a cocktail.

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    How Strong Is The Old

    The old-fashioned is definitely a strong drink. With little dilution and no significant mixer, it’s not much lighter than a straight pour of whiskey. The alcohol content of an old-fashioned made with an 80-proof whiskey falls around 32 percent ABV . Those old-timers would be happy to know that it still has that kick they were looking for.

    Bacon Old Fashioned Recipe

    Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

    For those who want to relive the bacon craze of the 2010s, we have just the right cocktail for you. Our Bacon Old Fashioned maple syrup is perfect as a substitute for regular sugar in our recipe.


    • 1 dash of Peychauds Bitters
    • 1 dash of orange Angostura bitters
    • 1 orange peel
    • 1 luxardo cherry

    To make the bacon-infused bourbon, place bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until the bacon has rendered fat and is beginning to look crispy. Remove the bacon and save for garnishing.

    Then, combine the bacon fat with the bourbon. Stir and refrigerate until the fat becomes solid. Strain the bourbon through three layers of coffee filters.


    • Place New Riff Kentucky Straight Bacon Bourbon, maple syrup, both types of bitters, and ice into a mixing glass.
    • Stire, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
    • Add a slice of bacon, orange peel, and cherry to garnish.

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    On Muddling Fruit In An Old Fashioned Cocktail

    Just dont.

    While I know a lot of bartenders muddle an orange slice and a cherry in the Old Fashioned cocktail I am personally not a fan of this. See my conversation with Russell Davis from Bar Rescue on the subject)

    Of course, if your brand standard recipe does call for this, this is how it should be served in your bar. While I feel the practice is outdated, the way to address this with your brand is to talk to whoever deals with your menus, not take it upon yourself to serve the drink differently.

    *Links to ingredients in online stores may include affiliate links for which BartenderHQ receives a commission, supporting in the running of this website.

    Whats The Best Sugar In An Old Fashioned

    The first question we tried to answer was what kind of sugar tastes best in an Old Fashioned. The second question was if simple syrup or a sugar cube is superior. Therefore, we tested the following sugars in our cocktail:

    • Turbinado Simple Syrup
    • Maple Syrup

    Simple Syrup versus Sugar Cube:

    It ended up being very difficult to get any of the sugar cubes to fully dissolve. We tried muddling them, adding them into some of the bourbon, and anything else we could think of. The best trick we had and one that can work in a pinch is to dissolve the sugar cube in hot water first. Its sort of like a quick-and-easy simple syrup. It isnt perfect, but it works if thats all you have or you dont want to make simple syrup.

    Simple syrup is superior. It makes mixing and getting the appropriate amount of sweetness much easier.

    In our testing, turbinado simple syrup made the best Old Fashioned. We tested turbinado sugar, organic cane sugar, and regular cane sugar simple syrup side by side in otherwise identical cocktails. Although any would work, the turbinado made a more complex Old Fashioned and ended up being the clear winner.

    The organic cane sugar was a good alternative, but the regular cane sugar ended up lacking depth of flavor and would be our last choice.

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    How To Screw Up An Old Fashioned

    In a cocktail with very few elements, one piece out of place can throw off the balance and whole flavor of the cocktail. Much depends on the choice of whiskey. Whatever whiskey you choose, make sure both the bitters, the simple syrup and garnish all work well together.

    The easiest and most enjoyable way to figure this out would be experimentation where you change just one element in a series of cocktails and see which one suits you and your guests palates the best.

    Im a purist at heart, so here are my 3 no-nos for an old fashioned:

    #1: Adding Soda

    Put down the soda, the seltzer, the lemon-lime soda. Just set it down and back away.

    The beauty of well-crafted old fashioned is not only the way that it tastes on the first sip, but the way it mellows as the large chunk of ice dilutes in it. Adding soda to the cocktail might make the first sips very palatable for some, but the cocktail quickly becomes watered down and muted in flavor.We want to taste the whiskey in the old fashioned. Its why were here, after all.

    #2: Using the Wrong Ice

    In the original descriptions of the whiskey cocktail, it often mentioned that it required one large lump of ice. Today youre as likely to get one large cube as you are a glass full of smaller ice cubes. Even at home, making the cocktail for an evening cocktail, its easy to reach for refrigerator ice.But, using large cubes in your old fashioned does a few things.

    #3: Muddling

    Tequila Old Fashioned Recipe

    An Old-Fashioned with a Twist: The Mountainside Cocktail | Drink What You Want with John deBary

    You may be familiar with good tequila in a beautiful tasting margarita. But you may not know that the spirit is made from agave, a sweet spirit that can be consumed on its own or in refreshing drinks.

    The tequila old-fashioned is quite an experimental endeavor. Fortunately, its flavor does not fall short of excellent. The Tequila Old Fashioned lends unique earthy and spicy flavors to the classic taste of a traditional Old Fashioned.


    • 3 oz tequila
    • ½ oz agave nectar
    • 1 dash aromatic Angostura Bitters
    • 1 orange peel
    • 1 luxardo cherry
    • Brown sugar to candy the orange

    To candy the orange wedges, start by boiling them for roughly 2 minutes. Transfer the slices to an ice bath, discard the water and chill the oranges. Add your demerara simple syrup to a saucepan on medium-low heat, then add the chilled orange slices to simmer for one hour. Stir every 15 minutes to coat them evenly in the syrup. Remove oranges from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack. Coat them in brown sugar before completely drying and serving.


    • Add New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aromatic bitters, demerara simple syrup, and ice into a mixing glass.
    • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
    • Garnish with a candied orange wedge and a luxardo cherry.

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    What Is Earl Grey Tea

    Earl Grey tea has a distinctive flavor, and while you may know it comes from bergamot oil, you may not know that its origin is the rind of a bergamot orange, a type usually grown in Italy. The tea is a form of black tea and its said that it was originally added to tea shipped in from China that was poorer in quality.

    I love the distinctive floral flavor of Earl Grey tea, that aroma takes me back to my morning tea in college . Its a fragrance thats distinct from other citrus oils, and one that is now synonymous with the tea.

    So where did the name come from? Its named after the Earl of Grey, British Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834, a career politician/aristocrat, but theres no consensus as to why. Originally it was thought he created or bought the recipe and popularized it. Another theory was that he was given the tea for saving the life of a Chinese diplomat. Again, only rumor.

    Well never know the origins of the story, but its likely it became popular in London through the entertaining savvy of his wife, Lady Grey.

    The Problem: Making Old Fashioned Cocktails One

    Having to make cocktails one by one is fine when youre enjoying a drink with 2-3 other people in an intimate setting .

    But if youre at a party with 6, 8, 10+ people, you dont want to be stuck in the kitchen all night, stirring round after round. You want to have a good time!

    Thats why making a batch of bottled Old Fashioned cocktails BEFORE the party is the way to go.

    I celebrated Friendsgiving with a few friends who stayed in NYC this year, and I brought batch-made Old Fashioneds. It was greateveryone could help themselves to their own OFs!

    You can batch make many of the classic whiskey-based cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Boulevardier .

    But today, lets focus on a recipe for making a batch of Old Fashioneds, the classic cocktail.

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