When it comes down to it, a Bourbon Old Fashioned isn’t much more than a shot of whisky that has been seasoned and sweetened. Even though the drink is very simple, it is still as popular today as it was when it first became popular 200 years ago.
If you’re interested in history, you could draw a straight line from this drink to the first written description of a cocktail, which was written around 1806 and said that it should have spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. The Old Fashioned has whisky, sugar, water, and bitters that make the drink smell good. You could also just make the drink and skip the history lesson. If you’re already thirsty, do the second one.
Start with good bourbon. The rule is that if you wouldn’t drink it on its own, it doesn’t belong in a Bourbon Old Fashioned. (There are other whisky drinks that can hide bad whisky, but this one doesn’t work.) From there, people who like to make drinks seem to choose between simple syrup and muddled sugar.
A barspoon of syrup can cut the time it takes to make a drink in half, but it also takes away some of the weight and texture that give the drink its deep appeal. If you want to make the drink the way people did in the 1800s, you should use granulated sugar or a sugar cube. Choose simple syrup if you want to give the cocktail a more modern twist. But why are you in such a hurry? The Bourbon Old Fashioned is here to stay. Just remember that simple syrup adds a bit more water to your drink, so you may need to change the amount of ice and how you stir it.
Once you know how to make a Bourbon Old Fashioned, you can also make it with rye whisky, which gives the drink a little more spice. You can also use rum, brandy, or any number of other spirits. The old-fashioned way is more of a guideline than a science. But people have been coming back to the bourbon-spiked version for decades, so why change something that works?
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 dashes of bitters Angostura
- 1 ml of water
- 2 ounces of whisky (or rye whiskey, if preferred)
- Orange twist for a garnish
Pour the sugar, bitters, and water into a mixing glass. Stir until the sugar is almost completely dissolved.
Fill the mixing glass with ice, add the bourbon, and stir until the drink is well chilled.
Pour into a rocks glass filled with one large ice cube.
Drop a drop of oil from an orange twist into the glass to decorate it.