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old old fashioned

pete k Nov 13, 2011 09:52 AM

I had one made for me Friday night when I asked the bartender to suggest a cocktail with bourbon. It took him about 10 minutes to make the drink. He stirred each ice cube in individually until he was pleased with the final results. I don't recall that he used any fruit, but again I didn't pay full attention. I believe he used what appeared to be a Demerara sugar cube, but I could be wrong.

I've searched all over and can't seem to find a proper recipe. Help!

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  1. yarm RE: pete k Nov 13, 2011 10:03 AM

    Paul Clarke (writes for Imbibe and other publications) is as good of a source as any:

    Old Fashioned

    1 smallish sugar cube (or 1/2 to 1 tsp sugar, to taste) OR 1-2 tsp gomme syrup
    2 dashes Angostura or Fee’s Old-Fashioned Aromatic Bitters
    a few drops of water
    2 ounces bourbon or rye (or 3–what the hell)
    strip of orange or lemon peel

    Place the sugar in an Old Fashioned glass, moisten with the water and bitters then muddle until dissolved (chuck the fruit peel in, if you like–I don’t). Add the whiskey, give it a quick stir, then add a big chunk of ice or two and stir again. Hit it.


    Only thing I would change is increasing the water to dissolve the sugar cube. If you add a teaspoon of sugar, 1 tsp of water will work but 2 tsp of water will make it easier. Effort can be saved by making simple syrup out of demerara or other flavorful sugars (white sugar will work well too), but I have demerara sugar cubes mostly only for Old Fashioneds. Also, muddling with the peel in the drink is one option, the other is to twist over the top to express the oils on the drink's surface (dropping it in or not is your call).


    2 Replies
    1. re: yarm
      pete k RE: yarm Nov 13, 2011 11:25 AM

      Much appreciated, thank you.

      I'll make an attempt at it tonight and post results if anyone's interested.

      1. re: yarm
        ns1 RE: yarm May 16, 2014 11:22 AM

        do you guys try to completely dissolve the sugar?

        If so, how long does this take and any tips? I spent ~5 minutes yesterday trying to muddle the sugar/water and getting it to dissolve and was only 90%-95% successful.

      2. Ditdah RE: pete k Nov 14, 2011 08:25 AM

        Sounds like you had a better experience that I did! This weekend I was out with friends (at a casual chain restaurant) and I ordered an Old Fashioned. The bartender asked me "an old fashioned what?" I said "never mind" and ordered a glass of wine, instead.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ditdah
          Klunco RE: Ditdah Nov 14, 2011 08:33 AM

          At least you didn't order a "Martini" and get a glass of vodka shaken with ice.

          While I love cocktails, I tend to stick to either making them at home or ordering them only at places that have serious cocktail programs. It's great that cocktails are making a resurgence, but without proper training or respect for good ingredients (ie. the stale vermouth that's been on the bar for a year), it's an expensive landmine for consumers. There is no bigger ripoff than ordering a poorly made $10 or $12 cocktail.

          As far as a good old-fashioned: try using a lemon instead of an orange with Rye Whiskey. I find lemon and rye is a great combo, while bourbon and orange work best together.

          1. re: Klunco
            yarm RE: Klunco Nov 14, 2011 08:43 AM

            Depends on what you're going after. Orange is softer and lemon is sharper, and your suggestion definitely complements the whiskey types. Some bars do a swath of each.

            The Slate last week had an excellent article on the Old Fashioned that is worth a read given the historical changes in the recipe and perceptions of the drink:

          2. re: Ditdah
            Living4fun RE: Ditdah May 16, 2014 11:38 AM

            Old Fashioneds in Wisconsin are made with Brandy..usually ordered..Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet or sour or press. Maybe your bartender was from Wisconsin.

          3. scubadoo97 RE: pete k Nov 15, 2011 04:31 AM

            For an old old fashioned use Ancient Ancient Age bourbon ;)

            1. e
              eatanddestroy RE: pete k Nov 23, 2011 12:31 PM

              I always like an old fashioned, but the last few that I got in Boston had way too much soda water for my liking (I'm talking about 2 to 5 ounces), even at a bar where the bartenders know how to make some good cocktails.

              Nothing is sadder than getting an old fashioned that tastes like you are drinking rye flavored water with a bit of fruit.

              Unless I can tell the bartender directly to use no more than a drop of water, I don't order them.

              1. tim irvine RE: pete k Dec 10, 2011 05:01 PM

                My recipe may be heretical, but I like a finger of water, a scant teaspoon of turbinado sugar, a couple of shakes of Angostura bitters, and a cherry, plenty of ice, and top up a double old fashioned glass with favorite bourbon or, if feeling penurious, Evan Williams. No soda, no fruit. In the summer for a lighter drink, same drll with Peychaud's.

                1. l
                  lalajane RE: pete k Nov 27, 2013 06:53 AM

                  I love a good "old" old fashioned. Rye (I have usually had made w/ Rittenhouse), bitters, sugar and lemon peel twist. No orange, and definitely no cherries.

                  1. t
                    The Big Crunch RE: pete k May 19, 2014 10:58 AM

                    2 oz. rye (or bourbon, depending on what the guest wants)
                    2-4 dashes of Angostura bitters (I like Angostura so I go with 4)
                    1/4 oz. simple syrup

                    Combine in a mixing glass or tin, add ice, stir until chilled and diluted for taste (stirring time depends on the ice)

                    Strain and pour over a large ice cube in a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a large orange strip first squeezed over top the drink.

                    The traditional way is to soak the sugar cube with bitters and muddle it, but I prefer Robert Hess's suggestion to just use simple syrup. It's quicker and blends better IMO.

                    Garnish is also optional between lemon or orange twist. I prefer orange but some prefer lemon, so ask first.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: The Big Crunch
                      JMF RE: The Big Crunch May 20, 2014 08:28 AM

                      I would probably take that up to 1/2 oz. simple syrup. Preferably made with dark muscovado sugar.

                      1. re: JMF
                        ns1 RE: JMF May 20, 2014 10:00 AM

                        that seems like a lot O_O

                        1. re: ns1
                          JMF RE: ns1 May 20, 2014 12:10 PM

                          Not if you are properly stirring the syrup with the 2 oz. of spirits and the bitters on ice for a good 25-35 seconds. Then strain into a glass over a large cube or two.

                          1. re: JMF
                            ns1 RE: JMF May 20, 2014 12:24 PM

                            In comparison my current recipe (and many similar recipes) call for 1 sugar cube (5g), vs the 1/2 oz of simple syrup in yours (approx 12g sugar)

                            I did try out a 2 sugar cube old fashioned just a few days ago and found it waaaaaaaaay too sweet.

                            1. re: JMF
                              ncyankee101 RE: JMF May 21, 2014 12:09 AM

                              If not specified, when "simple syrup" is referred to in a recipe is the convention 1:1 or 2:1?

                              1. re: ncyankee101
                                JMF RE: ncyankee101 May 21, 2014 06:40 AM

                                Usually... 1:1 is simple syrup, 2:1 is rich syrup

                                1. re: JMF
                                  ncyankee101 RE: JMF May 21, 2014 12:41 PM

                                  Thanks, that makes sense. Now I recall having heard that before - but I still see some recipes refer to "2:1 simple syrup".

                            2. re: ns1
                              Klunco RE: ns1 May 20, 2014 12:14 PM

                              This all comes down to personal preference. Try 1/4 oz, 1/3 oz, and 1/2 oz and see what suits you.

                              I prefer 1/4 oz. but I've realized a lot of the bars around here add 1/2 oz. which is a bit sweet for my tastes, but makes sense in the context of most people's palate. Often when I make them for guests who don't drink a lot of cocktails, I use 1/2 oz. which goes a long way toward their enjoyment of the drink.

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