One of my preferred mixed drinks is the Old Fashioned. Most people think of the Old Fashioned as the muddled mess of cherry, orange, a sugar cube, bitters, whiskey, and club soda, but in fact, that style of Old Fashioned wasn’t created until around 1930. The original recipe for the Old Fashioned, hailing from the 19th century, just called for a base spirit (usually whiskey, but feel free to experiment with aged rum or extra-anejo tequila), bitters, sugar, and water (usually in the form of ice.) Fruit wasn’t included in the original recipes although one can imagine that any and all sorts of garnishes may have been used to improve both the visual appeal and the taste of the drink during those days.
While I adore the Old Fashioned, once the weather begins to get a bit of chill in the air, I find that it becomes a bit too thin for me. I want something that is going to feel more like a crisp autumn day to me, and because of that, I’ve played around with the recipe for an Old Fashioned quite a bit in order to create something more to my liking during cold months. I did a lot of tinkering, trying different types of bitters and switching up several brands of whiskey, and I eventually settled on changing the sugar. While most simple syrup is made with a 50:50 blend of table sugar and water dissolved over medium heat until clear, I switched to using dark brown sugar in my simple syrup. The change was exactly what the Old Fashioned needed for the cooler months ahead. Brown sugar brings out more of the cinnamon and spice notes of good whiskey (I use Old Forester, the original bottled bourbon whiskey for this drink), and it helps pull all of the ingredients together. An orange twist gives a nod to the 1930s era Old Fashioned and also helps brighten some of the darker flavors in this cocktail. Give this a try at home this fall or winter. I think you’ll find that this version of the Old Fashioned is a perfect way to enjoy this drink on a cold night.
The Autumn Old Fashioned Cocktail
Makes one cocktail.
- 2 ounces Old Forester Bourbon
- ½ ounces brown sugar simple syrup
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 3 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
- Orange twist, for garnish
- In a double rocks glass, combine all ingredients.
- Stir briefly.
- Garnish with an orange twist.