How to Make an Old Fashioned: Everything You Need to Know

Entertaining at home comes with rewards and responsibilities. Fixing a drink is high up on the list for both. Whether it’s for yourself at the end of a long day or for dinner guests, knowing how to make an old fashioned will serve you (and others) well. Get basic bartending knowledge with these key products for timeless cocktail creations at home.

An old fashioned cocktail sits on a table next to an Herb & Lou's cocktail-infused ice cube

The drink that later became known as the old fashioned actually predates the word cocktail. The name “old fashioned” first appeared in the 1880s so it seems that the name has aged well over time. Longstanding popularity is perhaps due to it being an easy cocktail to make. It’s also smooth to drink. That’s thanks to a little sugar that sweetens the bourbon whiskey base, which can be made with Irish whiskey, rye, or other spirits.

Old Fashioned Recipe Ingredients:

  • ¼ ounce simple syrup (or 1 sugar cube)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey (or rye)
  • Ice
  • Orange twist


1. Add simple syrup (or muddle a sugar cube) and a dash of bitters to the empty glass. Pour bourbon whiskey and stir with a bar spoon.
2. Add one large ice cube (or several smaller ones) and stir until chilled. Add citrus garnish and serve.

A cocktail sits expertly made on a multi-use cocktail bar mat from Talisman Designs amidst all the ingredients

Preparation Mat-ters

A craftsman uses a workbench and a bartender deserves the same, but it need not be big or permanent. A Multi-Use Cocktail Bar Mat gives your prep space a look of practical professionalism. Place your glass on the textured side and insert the plastic cutting inlay to cut the garnish later. The mat folds neatly for storage once the cocktail hour is over.

An old fashioned cocktail is seen next to The Elan Collective's cocktail mixing glass set

Stirred, Not Shaken

Build your old fashioned right in the glass. This four-piece Cocktail Mixing Glass Set gets you started. The mixing glass’ Yarai diamond-cut pattern not only looks classy, but it also gives you grip as you stir. The set includes a stainless steel jigger to measure two shots of whiskey that form the base of the old fashioned, but don’t pour just yet. Also, the bar spoon will be handy for mixing ingredients as the old fashioned is a stirred drink. Finally, the gift set includes recipe cards to inspire your next round.

Be Sweet, Then Bitter

Your old fashioned sugar fix can come in one of three ways: a teaspoon of raw or granulated sugar, one sugar cube, or ¼-ounce simple syrup. For purists, muddle that cube. For ease of assembly, go with liquified sugar.

Now for the bitters, a medicinal mix of herbs and spices. Two or three dashes of Angostura bitters are traditionally used. These bitters once treated the upset stomachs of Simón Bolívar’s army and are named after the Venezuelan city where they originated. Today, the secret recipe is produced in Trinidad.

Two boxes of Herb & Lou's infused cocktail ice cubes sit on a table next to cocktail shakers

Bitter Cold Cubes

If you want to spice your drink a different way, try Infused Cocktail Ice Cubes with pre-mixed, non-alcoholic flavors like blood orange old fashioned. These clever cubes add juice concentrate, ginger root extract, and oil of orange as they melt.

A personalized oak barrel from Thousand Oaks Barrel sits next to 2 glasses of whiskey, the barrel personalized with Williamson's Whiskey

At-Home Aging

Now that you’ve added simple syrup and bitters, go ahead and pour the alcohol. You can even make your own with a Spirit-Aging Oak Barrel to distill spirits at home. Add essence flavors like Kentucky bourbon and Irish whiskey to build your old fashioned from the barrel up in this attractive two- or five-liter oak container.

A glass of whiskey is seen with a clear sphere ice cube in it, sitting next to Dexas Ice-Ology's ice mold kit

Ice, Ice Baby

After sugar, bitters, and alcohol, in goes the ice. But don’t just scoop up whatever your freezer spat out. Do it right and use this Clear Ice Cube Maker for nicer looking and slower melting cubes. With these silicone molds, water freezes the natural way—from the top down—which expels air bubbles for clear ice without cloudiness. Molds produce small cubes, large cubes, or large spheres for a professional touch.

Barbarian's 9-in-1 bar multitool rests on a counter next to fresh limes and mint

A 9-in-1 Barback

Your old fashioned is almost complete. Time for the garnish. For that, and a bevy of other bartending tasks, stock your home bartender arsenal with a 9-in-1 Bar Multi-Tool. Use the citrus knife to peel orange or lemon skin to finish off making your old fashioned. The tool also comes in handy with its bottle opener, corkscrew, citrus press, and a variety of small knives.

Spring Copenhagen's wooden minimalistic orange peeler rests on an orange

Get Zesty

If you want to go the minimalist route to peel citrus, try Spring Birds Wooden Orange Peeler. This ergonomic tool pierces the skin and then perfectly peels a rind with stainless steel implements at either end.

Finally, rub the rind around the rim and tuck it next to the ice cube. For an even sweeter finish, skewer two dark Luxardo cherries into the glass.

Being the host with the most is easier when you’re prepared with basic bartending knowledge. These home bartending tools equip you to make an old fashioned as well as other fundamental cocktails like the martini, sidecar, whiskey highball, and flip.

A fundamental and historic cocktail, the old fashioned remains a popular libation in modern times. With these products and tips, you can elevate your cocktail hour.

Now that you’ve crafted the perfect old fashioned, try these home bar essentials to serve spirits, wine, and beer at your next cheers-y gathering.

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