Outsider Cocktails: Classic Old Fashioned With Bourbon

by Jim Casey
photo by Outsider

The Old Fashioned is a classic whiskey cocktail that has been around, in various forms, since the 1800s. It is so “classic” that it is one of the six basic drinks listed in 1948’s often-referenced The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury, along with the Daiquiri, Jack Rose, Manhattan, Martini, and Sidecar. Embury’s recipe for the Old Fashioned calls for American Whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters, garnished with a lemon peel and maraschino cherry. The International Bartenders Association recommends whiskey (bourbon or rye), a sugar cube, water, and bitters, garnished with an orange slice and a cocktail cherry.

As you can see, the classic cocktail features plenty of nuances. Bourbon or rye? Sugar cube or simple syrup? Orange peel/lemon peel or cherry (or both)?

Today, we’re going to make a version of the classic Old Fashioned with bourbon.

Ingredients: Classic Old Fashioned With Bourbon


My general rule (and it’s not just my rule, someone had to tell me this at some point): the drink should feature a bourbon/rye that you enjoy drinking neat . . . but should only cost around $30 a bottle. Three of my favorites bourbons—that meet the aforementioned requirements—include Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Elijah Craig.


Place 1 sugar cube in an empty rocks glass (image 1). Add 2-3 dashes of bitters (2). Add 1 tsp. water (3). Muddle with a wooden tool (4)—the end of a spatula works great.

Add a large ice cube to the rocks glass (5). Pour 2 oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon (3 oz. if you want it stronger) over the ice cube (6). Stir for 20 seconds (7). Express orange peel oils into the drink (8). Twist peel and add to the glass.


Enjoy your Old Fashioned masterpiece.