The Old(er) Fashioned

Contributed by

Up until a few years ago, it was a truly rare occurrence for a customer to walk into my bar and order an Old Fashioned. As soon as I’d recover from the surprise, I would access the Rolodex of recipes in my mind and set out to fix the drink as I was taught.

I started by muddling the sugar and bitters with an orange wheel, brandied cherries and lemon twist. A splash of club soda and some whiskey, and it was done.

As trends tend to follow a merciless cycle of recurrence, slowly the cocktail has made its comeback, and man, what a comeback it is! Now guests of all ages request Old Fashioneds every night, and it’s one of the best-selling classic drinks at my bar Employees Only in New York.

But with its resurgence in popularity has come a debate as to how you should make an Old Fashioned. While many like it with muddled fruit (which was probably added to the concoction during Prohibition), others prefer the even-earlier recipe that calls for only a fruit garnish. In fact, “Old Fashioned” originally referred to the primeval definition of a cocktail: a mix of liquor, sugar, water and bitters.

No matter which version you like, if you’re out, please specify the way you want it. There’s nothing old-fashioned about that.

Classic Old Fashioned

Contributed by Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas


Garnish: Lemon and orange twists
Glass: Rocks

In a rocks glass, muddle both sugars, both bitters and the water. Add the whiskey and a large ice cube. Twist slices of lemon and orange peel over the drink and drop them in.

Contemporary Old Fashioned

Contributed by Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas


Garnish: Orange half-wheel, brandied cherry and lemon twist
Glass: Rocks

In a rocks glass, muddle the orange, cherries, lemon twist, sugars and bitters. Remove the lemon and orange peels and discard. Add a splash of club soda and fill with large ice cubes. Carefully pour the whiskey on top. Finish with another splash of club soda and garnish with an orange half-wheel, brandied cherry and lemon twist.
Dushan Zaric is the co-owner of popular New York City bars Employees Only and Macao Trading Co., and the co-author of Speakeasy. He is also a advisor.

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  • bjjnova posted 2 years ago

    It doesn't really work to try to dissolve the sugar once you add the spirit. Stir this right after you add the water until all the sugar is dissolved. Then add the whiskey. Much better result.

  • Chris posted 6 years ago

    If you're going to use Maraschino cherries, use the real deal -- Luxardo -- available from Kegworks. Also, you can save a lot of muddling by making a 2:1 Demerara sugar syrup (add gum arabic for a genuine bartender's gomme syrup -- see the recipe in Dave Wondrich's Imbibe!).

    If you live in Australia or nearby, try making this with Tasmanian spiced cherries.

  • editor posted 6 years ago

    You can substitute maraschino for brandied cherries in this recipe (and all cocktail recipes, for that matter). However, brandied cherries tend to have a more complex flavor than maraschino cherries, which can be overly sweet, which is why many bartenders prefer them.

  • Luke posted 6 years ago

    What happened to the Maraschino cherries? No one likes em anymore?

  • Bryan posted 6 years ago

    Old fashioneds are to never be fizzy. Soda pop is for little kidies who also think that martinis can be made with vodka.

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