This old-fashioned cocktail, although not quite the classic, is slightly spicy with rye rather than bourbon and a special sort of simple syrup. It’s nothing if not pretty darn close to perfect.
This old-fashioned cocktail is one of countless iterations of the classic cocktail. It’s made with rye, not bourbon, and with simple syrup made from turbinado sugar for a more complex depth. While different folks have differing accounts of what makes for the perfect old-fashioned cocktail, to us, it’s this recipe. Originally published June 18, 2016.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Old Fashioned Cocktail
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 1 H
- Serves 1
- For the Demerara simple syrup
- 1 cup (220 g) Demerara or turbinado sugar
- 1 cup (237 ml) cold water
- For the old fashioned
- 2 ounces (60 ml) rye
- 1 bar spoon (that's a teaspoon or 5 ml) Demerara simple syrup
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 lemon twist, for garnish
- Make the Demerara simple syrup
- 1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is reduced slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool. Transfer the syrup to a container with a lid, cover, and refrigerate for up to several weeks and use in anything you would typically use simple syrup but want a slightly more complex taste.
- Make the old fashioned
- 2. Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice. Add the rye, syrup, and bitters, stir well, and strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with the lemon twist and serve.
Recipe Testers Reviews
An old fashioned is one of my go-to cocktails. Made well, it's on the boozy side with a good spirit base (usually bourbon for me) and only a hint of sweetness and bitters for accent. This classic old fashioned variation hit all the right notes and made for an excellent version. I enjoyed the use of rye instead of bourbon. It gives the drink a nice spicy note typical of rye and works great with the bitters.
The perfect old fashioned cocktail. This is exactly what you would hope for at a real bar with fine rye, Demerara sugar which gives you rich notes that work well dark spirits, a blemish-free Meyer lemon, and a nice combination of bitters so that the orange also comes through. I used Bulleit rye. The bitters were both Angostura ("classic" Aromatic and Orange). The only thing I did not have handy was a large ice cube, but 4 smaller ones worked just fine and, in fact, helped slightly dilute the drink a tiny bit, which is a bartender's tip to a drink that you can really taste and enjoy. In the first one I made, I was a little restrained in doling out dashes of bitters. When my personal spirits consultant tried it, he was a little more forward and I preferred that one. The one thing we would dial back slightly is to be a bit scant on the simple syrup (a personal choice as we both prefer a less sweet drink). While the recipe says to stir, a swirl is fine and shaking will chill more (you don't have to tell anyone). I would consider this drink to be a 10 with a tiny dilution and a light hand with the simple syrup. Lovely drink. I can picture my Greek grandfather and his dear sister-in-law, my wild 6-foot-tall Irish aunt, Lucille, sitting together reminiscing and laughing with this drink in hand.
This is not the traditional old fashioned cocktail with white sugar coating the glass, but I do like the evenly dispersed sugar throughout the drink. After the simple syrup is made, the recipe took about 2 minutes to make, and 30 seconds of that was waiting for the ice to come out of the ice machine. This is super quick and straightforward. Measure out the syrup, rye, two bitters, stir, strain, and serve. One bar spoon is the exact right amount, otherwise the drink would be too sweet. The orange bitters is a nice touch, although I found the lemon twist to be an odd choice of garnish in this context. An orange peel would make more sense and if you used that, you wouldn't really need the orange bitters.