Today, we’re talking Old Fashioned drink recipe ideas with two experts: James Ashcraft, also known as “The Bourbon Enthusiast,” and the one and only “Bourbon Brotha” himself. These bourbon aficionados will share favorite Old Fashioned twists and tips you won’t want to miss!
Ask anyone about the classic American cocktail, and their answer will probably include the Old Fashioned. It’s our pride and joy, the OG, the granddaddy drink of them all. It’s simple but not simplistic, not to mention gorgeous in the glass.
A Brief Overview of the Old Fashioned
It started out as a morning medicinal concoction and then became the whiskey cocktail. After many titles over the last couple of centuries, we’ve landed at the Old Fashioned. Purists may still cling to only a muddled sugar cube and a few dashes of bitters. More recently, the cocktail is finding itself commonly in the company of both sugar and fruit.
Today, there are many interpretations. If you’re a strict, by-the-book Old Fashioned lover, then your drink recipe is simple: bourbon, sugar, and bitters. But what are the variations experts swear by? What truly brings out that bourbon and crowns it as cocktail king? Let’s have a look at the best bourbons, along with a couple of specific twists, techniques, and tips.
Old Fashioned Drink Recipe Secrets Revealed
Here are a couple of takes on the Old Fashioned. We’re not steering too far from the beloved elemental version. A subtle twist here and there seems to complement and even illuminate the bourbon more than overpowering it. We hope some of these recipes and tips speak to you.
From the Bar of The Bourbon Enthusiast
A huge fan of the Old Fashioned, Ashcraft experiments with many different ingredients – from the bourbon to the style of bitters and sweeteners. “I’ve stumbled upon what I believe to be the best and most balanced recipe, which really accents the bourbon used—as opposed to overpowering it with sweetness,” explains Ashcraft. He continues, “Spoiler alert: there’s no fruit muddling, club soda, or sugar.”
Here’s his “house” Old Fashioned drink recipe:
Ashcraft encourages trying unique interpretations of the classic Old Fashioned when you’re out. If a particular place is known for craft cocktails or possesses an extensive whiskey collection, give them a go.
From the Bar of The Bourbon Brotha
The Bourbon Brotha has certainly experimented with the Old Fashioned, incorporating different citrus bitters such as lemon, lime, and orange. He says a nice orange bitters selection makes for a great Old Fashioned.
Further, he’s tested a variety of sweeteners like honey, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and maple syrup. “I’m partial to using brown sugar for its richness…” he says. He recommends a mortar and pestle, suggesting that this takes the Old Fashioned to another level. “It really grinds together the bitters and sugars to make a nice slurry…” he notes.
Is your mouth watering yet? Bring it on, Brotha.
The Bourbon Brotha champions orange bitters, brown sugar, a good bourbon, and a twisted orange garnish for a killer Old Fashioned. And we dig this tip: “The secret is to twist the orange and rub the peel along the rim of the glass.” He says the orange oil and bitters will hit your nose every time you go in for a sip. He’s all about the complete sensory experience of the Old Fashioned, and we love it.
What’s the Best Bourbon for an Old Fashioned Drink Recipe?
We all have our favorite bourbons, but which makes the best Old Fashioned and why? We’ve turned to the experts for advice. Bourbon is their game, so we trust that their suggestions will have us all winning in no time.
From the Palate of The Bourbon Enthusiast
Ashcraft says this is a matter of preference, of course. He offers up Buffalo Trace as an excellent choice and the quintessential bourbon. Its classic flavor profile pairs well with the aromatic components. “At 90 proof,” he explains, “it will yield an overall smoother cocktail.”
On the other hand, Ashcraft states if you want more of a bold bourbon flavor opt for Knob Creek. “It’s a 100-proofer that holds up well in any cocktail,” he says.
From the Palate of The Bourbon Brotha
Our Brotha is a big fan of Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, also known as “the white label Evan Williams.” He describes it as quite a bargain for a great quality, 4(+)-year-old bourbon.
He further details the Evan Williams as being “sweeter, oaky bourbon; for its age.” It has a delicious oak flavor that comes forth beautifully in a mixed drink with limited sweeteners, such as the Old Fashioned.
We hope these Old Fashioned drink recipe twists and tips are just what you’re looking for. Prestige Decanters, of course, encourages you to experiment and interpret on your own. Have fun adding your fresh, individual spin on this treasured classic!
As you look forward to mixing up a few Old Fashioned drinks, check out our handcrafted and hand-blown whiskey decanters, as well as a few accessories. They’re perfect for your home bar. And read our blog “Why Use a Decanter for Bourbon?” for more tips about serving in style.
What’s your favorite Old Fashioned drink recipe? Share it with us in the comments section below.