How to Make the Bourbon Old Fashioned

How to Make the Bourbon Old Fashioned
Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime!

The classic of classic cocktails, the most ordered cocktail in the world, so simple and so easy – the Old Fashioned can be made with almost any dark spirit now, but the classic old fashioned recipe is made with bourbon, so bourbon it is!

Classic Old Fashioned

OId Fashioned cocktails are not just for Father’s Day anymore. From New York to Bangkok, bourbon and bourbon cocktails are flying off the shelves.

Where the Bourbon Old Fashioned was born

While you are sipping an Old-Fashioned, did you ever stop to consider how the combination of bourbon, sugar cube, and angostura bitters with an orange peel came to be? Stop no longer, I have the answer for you, or one answer, for as David Wondrich, the award winning cocktail writer says “Anyone who hooks his cart to any cocktail history is going to go off road!” I truly want to believe that the Old-Fashioned cocktail was created for Colonel James E. Pepper, the owner of the largest bourbon distillery in the world at one point, by the barman at his private club, The Pendennis Club, in downtown Louisville. So that’s where we are starting!

I interviewed the General Manager of the Pendennis Club who guided me through the Old Fashioned’s history. James E. Pepper owned a distillery out of Lexington and is credited officially with inventing the Old Fashioned. He moved to New York in the late 1800s. It was in New York where he had the bartender at the Waldorf Astoria make it for him as well. The guy was so impressed by it that he asked he could have the old fashioned recipe and some of the bourbon, which were Kentucky bourbons, to recreate this drink.

That drink was a huge, huge hit in New York, so much so that the Waldorf Astoria also claims to have invented the Old Fashioned!

Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means that I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime!

What tools you need to make the Bourbon Old Fashioned

You won’t be needing a cocktail shaker for this one! Grab a jigger, a mixing glass, barspoon, strainer, and an Old Fashioned glass (or rocks glass.) For suave simplicity, clear ice cubes are the way to go, either one large ice cube will do nicely or clear ice balls. Just make sure you use fresh ice, because it’s an ingredient too!

Top Tip(ple)🍸: You can find all the tools you need and how to use them in my guide to choosing the best home bar tools!

How to make the Bourbon Old Fashioned

Since the 19th century, a billion variations have popped up, especially in these cocktail craze. But the true cocktail recipe is just perfection and hard to top. The bourbon makes up the entire cocktail, so you really want the best bourbon or your favorite bourbon to make the best.

I start with adding a sugar cube to the mixing glass and then add the three dashes of angostura bitters on top. Then comes the good bourbon and then the ice. Time to stir, stir, stir. If you want to cheat a bit you can use simple sugar syrup!

An orange peel and a cherry are the usual garnishes for old fashioned cocktails. I am not a snob about a maraschino cherry in my cocktail, but feel free to use a Luxardo cherry or any other you love. Same with the orange, a slice of orange or an orange wedge can work just fine.

  • Top Tip(ple)🍸:
    • Hate stirring? You can make it more easily by making a simple syrup beforehand.
    • You add a bit more depth by using demerara sugar or maple syrup to bring out the bourbon’s more caramel notes
    • For a spicer drink, use rye whiskey instead!
    • You can use a different flavored bitters – like orange bitters or cherry bitters
    • I love these maraschino cherries: the original Luxardo and also the Fabbri Amarena Wild Cherries

Where to find more bourbon and whiskey cocktail recipes

Here are a few of my favorites:

Where to find the best Old Fashioneds in the world

If you aren’t a member of the Pendennis Club, you can find great Old Fashioneds at pretty much any bar in Louisville or the state of Kentucky. If you are heading to KY, then don’t miss enjoying the Urban Bourbon Trail!

Where to find ingredients for the Old Fashioned

You can find fantastic bourbons at Spirits Kiosk (10% off the entire site by quoting this code: ALushLife10SK.) in the UK; or Drizly (Get $5 Off Your Order of $20+ using code ALUSHLIFE5) in the USA!

Here is the recipe:

Classic Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 orange peel


  1. Put a sugar cube into the bottom of a rocks glass with a teaspoon of warm water and saturate it with the bitters
  2. Muddle the sugar until it dissolves
  3. Add the Bourbon and stir, then stir some more.
  4. Add one sexy piece of ice or fill the glass with ice cubes.
  5. Stir until chilled
  6. Twist the orange peel over the drink and then add it to the glass.

Recommended Products

Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime! As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Made this cocktail?

Take a pic and tag @alushlifemanual on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Cheers!


Old Fashioned - Pinterest

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