How to Mix an Old Fashioned

Brandy or Whiskey, sweet or sour, making an old fashioned is as simple as the ingredients that go into it. Read on and learn ways to make this barroom favorite.

Possibly the first drink to be called a cocktail, the old fashioned was most likely invented in the late 1880s by a bartender at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky. The drink was simple: combine some bourbon, bitters, sugar, water and ice and bang, you’ve got yourself a drink.

To mix a classic old fashioned you will need:

  • 2 ounces of bourbon whiskey
  • 2 dashes of bitters
  • 1 cube of sugar with a splash of water, or simple syrup
  • 3 cubes of ice
  • Old Fashioned (or rocks) glass

In an old fashioned glass, combine the cube of sugar, water and bitters (or simple syrup and bitters). If needed, crush the sugar mixture to coat the bottom of the glass. Add the cubes of ice and whiskey. Garnish with a twist.

Served in a glass named for itself, the old-fashioned is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, along with many of its classic compatriots. Options to making the drink are as long as its century existence, but debates on keeping the purity of the drink often negate the tasty variations.

For most purists, the drink remains what it has always been, a whiskey cocktail with the minimum additions made. For others who enjoy a new take on an old favorite, adding a wash of sweet or sour (or in many cases soda water), mixing brandy instead of whiskey, or an added slice of orange garnish or a maraschino cherry make the drink that much more interesting. The decision, however, is always up to the drinker, to play around with the recipes and find what truly works for you.

The following recipe has been popularized in the north central region of Wisconsin. Known as a whiskey (or brandy) old fashioned sweet (or sour), it is just one take on what has become known as Wisconsin’s state drink.

To mix this version you need will need:

  • 2 ounces of whiskey or brandy
  • 2 dashes of bitters
  • 1 to 3 ounces of sweet or sour wash
  • 1 cube of sugar with water, or simple syrup
  • orange slice or cherry garnish (optional)
  • 3 cubes of ice
  • Old Fashioned (or rocks) glass

In an old fashioned glass, combine the cube of sugar, water and bitters (or a splash of simple syrup and bitters). If needed, crush the sugar mixture to coat the bottom of the glass. Add the cubes of ice and your choice of whiskey or brandy. Top with sweet or sour wash and garnish with an orange slice or cherry. Sit back and enjoy!

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