- In a mixing glass, add ice, bourbon, simple syrup, orange bitters, and aromatic bitters.
- Stir rapidly to chill.
- Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice or king cube.
- Express one orange peel over the drink by twisting the peel between your fingers, then run outside of peel along rim.
- Garnish with second orange peel and Luxardo cherry.
The bourbon old-fashioned can be altered with the smallest modifications, but these subtle variations are to best mold the profile you want.
- Play around with the balance of bitters; try equal parts orange and aromatic for a citrus-forward flavor.
- Consider different flavors of simple syrups to change the flavor profile, such as rosemary.
- Use the Luxardo cherry syrup instead of regular simple syrup.
- Swap out bitters for different combinations: walnut + mole, chocolate + aromatic, grapefruit + aromatic, smoked + chocolate
- Use a sugar cube in instead of simple syrup, finely muddling it with a few dashes of bitters
Garnishes aren't an afterthought. They add a visual experience to cocktails as well as impart a nose and flavor that would otherwise be missing. They're an extension of the cocktail experience. Here are a few garnish suggestions to break from the traditional orange peel and cherry.
- Flame a citrus peel for a toasty flavor.
- Use a lemon peel for a cleaner, crisper experience.
- Consider folding a Luxardo cherry in an orange wheel for a twist.
About the Bourbon Old-Fashioned
The bourbon old-fashioned has evolved over the years, especially from the first recipe used. It first showed up in the 1800s and was nothing more than a spirit, sometimes bourbon and sometimes brandy, bitters, water, and sugar, either coarse or as a cube. Soon, bartenders began to change the recipe as they saw fit, some adding orange liqueur or absinthe, with varying proportions from bar to bar.
It wouldn't be until the early 1900s that garnishes began to appear, typically an orange slice and cherry, or both in combination. Still, there was a different approach between every bar in how to garnish. Some would muddle these garnishes with the sugar cube and others would add them at the end. The muddling would continue into the 1990s.
Here to Stay
The bourbon old-fashioned has personality and longevity due to its moxie. Its easily-changed properties mean each new stir can be altered or have ingredients swapped in or out to best suit the desired profile. So grab your bar spoon and find your favorite bourbon old-fashioned. You might want to try some other manly cocktails as well.