The season of celebrations has arrived and we’re toasting it with a classic Old Fashioned cocktail. Seeing as the start of November marks the launch of Old Fashioned Week, we can’t think of a better time to celebrate this timeless classic.
During this ten-day extravaganza, a number of international brands – including the one most intertwined with this signature drink, ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters – and more than 1,200 bars worldwide will pay homage to the world’s oldest cocktail, the Old Fashioned. We’re taking that as a sign to mix up the old-school Old Fashioned with a number of twists on the classic, from seasonal to modern.
Here is a bit about how this cocktail came to be the most popular cocktail in the world and everything you need to know to make the perfect Old Fashioned cocktail.
The History Of The Old Fashioned Cocktail
As food and history lovers, we’re very much partial to drinks that have a storied past, and the Old Fashioned cocktail does not disappoint. Dating back to the early 1800s, the Old Fashioned is one of the oldest cocktails of all time – fitting, after all, for a drink that is named “Old Fashioned.”
It’s said the Old Fashioned was created in Louisville, Kentucky during the 19th century in honor of a bourbon distiller. But the cocktail gained popularity when he brought it to the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Through the years, the basic recipe for the cocktail has been made pretty much the same with a combination of premium ingredients like bourbon, sugar, citrus, and the essential ANGOSTURA® bitters. As such, the popularity of this classic cocktail has never waned, and it is now revered as one of the world’s most popular cocktails.
How to Make A Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail
The classic Old Fashioned cocktail isn’t all that complicated to make, but a few key things make it go from good to amazing.
First of all, let’s talk what’s in the glass – a classic Old Fashioned cocktail is built in a rocks glass and combines rye or bourbon, sugar, ice, ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters and a citrus peel.
We’ve got the full recipe for a classic Old Fashioned cocktail here but, here are a few more ways to make sure your Old Fashioned cocktail – whatever your twist may be – is absolutely delicious:
- Pour High Quality Ingredients: This cocktail is made with just a couple ingredients so each one really shines through. As such an Old Fashioned is not the time for second-rate ingredients! Make sure everything – from the alcohol to the bitters – are of the highest quality.
- Use the Correct Glassware: We’re all for inventive twists but one mainstay we won’t budge on is traditional glassware because we believe a Classic Old Fashioned cocktail should always be served in a rocks glass. And it’s not just about aesthetics – the rocks glass makes it easy to stir the cocktail properly (more on that below).
- Opt for Pure Ice: As a cocktail lover you probably already know this, but you want the cleanest ice so that the flavor of the other ingredients comes through. At home we use filtered water for our ice cubes so we can make sure the final cocktail tastes as good as possible.
- Stir with Style: The Old Fashioned is a cocktail that requires very few steps, but one you can’t skimp on is stirring. Pull out your best bar spoon and steadily stir all the ingredients until the glass is chilled and the liquid ingredients are slightly cloudy.
We think of a stirred drink like a vinaigrette – you want to mix until you’ve combined everything well so that there’s a perfect balance of all ingredients in the finished cocktail but you don't let the ice melt so much that it's watery.
- Don’t Forget the Bitters: No Old Fashioned is complete without ANGOSTURA® bitters. The citrus notes in ANGOSTURA® orange bitters are also a beautiful complement to the traditional Old Fashioned and can be found in many of its offshoots, balancing flavors and adding complexity to the drink.
Variations On The Old Fashioned Cocktail
There are countless twists on the timeless Old Fashioned cocktail recipe – here are a few of our favorites right now:
The Añejo Tequila Old Fashioned
To make this twist on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, we added our favorite aged añejo tequila in place of the traditional spirit of bourbon or rye, and garnished with slices of mandarin instead of an orange peel.
The Rosemary Old Fashioned
Instead of using a sugar cube, we make a simple syrup with equal parts boiling water and sugar and stir to dissolve. Add in a couple of fresh rosemary sprigs, then let it hang out just a few minutes to allow the herbal flavors to seep in. until you get herbal flavors. Remove the rosemary, let the syrup cool, and then use ¼ ounce of simple syrup for every cocktail you make.
Garnish it by taking a fresh rosemary spring, smacking it between your hands over the finished cocktail to unleash the aromatic oils, then pop it into the cocktail to serve.
The Burnt Cinnamon Whiskey Old Fashioned
To make this, use orange bitters, your favorite smoky whiskey, and then simply light the end of a cinnamon stick before serving. The aroma of the smoke will amplify the smokiness of the whisky and give you major holiday fireplace vibes!
The Spiced Persimmon Old Fashioned
Made with muddled persimmons, this recipe is one of our favorite twists on the Old Fashioned cocktail during the fall season!
Truth be told, you can make this classic cocktail using an array of spirits, liqueurs and garnishes to achieve a variety of flavor profiles. No matter how you drink your Old Fashioned, one thing remains consistent – it’s never complete until topped with ANGOSTURA® bitters.
How to Celebrate Old Fashioned Week
Now that you’ve mastered the Old Fashioned cocktail, it’s time to celebrated Old Fashioned Week! Taking place from November 1st through 10th, the event was launched in 2015 by Michael Landart of the Maria Loca bar in Paris and Cyrille Hugon of Rhum Fest Paris to pay homage to the cocktail.
Old Fashioned Week became a global event in 2017 as an open festival providing a worldwide platform for spirit connoisseurs' favorite cocktail and bartenders' creativity. Since the week was founded, the pair has worked to establish partners that have contributed to the evolution of the Old Fashioned, notably including ANGOSTURA® bitters.
For those in Los Angeles, stop by Alta West Adams until November 10th to celebrate, or try this recipe at home using ANGOSTURA® aromatic or orange bitters, available at grocery stores and liquor retailers nationwide.
To check out the full lineup of bars and find a participating location near you, visit the Old Fashioned Week website.
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