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A Modern Take on the Old Fashioned


4 Variations on a Classic Cocktail



In a world shaped by industrialization and transformed by technology, “hand-crafted” as a sensibility is understandably compelling. Small-batch, hand-hewn goods are way more appealing than mass produced, machine-made merchandise and consumables. This is no more evident than with cuisine—food and drink.


“Craft” as a movement is, at this point, well established—Craft Beer, Craft Food, Craft Cocktails. What’s not to like about a chef, brewer, or mixologist cultivating the ultimate experience for your palate? Whether it’s from cultivated hops, farm-to-table produce, mindfully raised meats, or artfully concocted spirits, integrity and creativity reign supreme when it comes to our dining experience.


Mixology tops the list of the Craft experience. Cocktails are the perfect outlet for displaying one’s passion and craftsmanship. And in the return to what’s basic, organic, and unprocessed, many of the traditional cocktails have come back into vogue. The resurrection of what might be considered the most iconic cocktail of them all—the Old Fashioned—could be attributed to the popularity of the TV series Mad Men, whose leading man’s favorite drink was an Old Fashioned. Regardless, it’s a trend worth exploring and exploding, with some modern variations.


The Classic Version


With its exact origins debated, the Old Fashioned definitely dates back to the nineteenth century. In order to properly and respectfully riff on this classic, the original recipe must be accepted as a baseline.


To make a classic Old Fashioned, take a sugar cube and moisten it with a couple dashes of Angostura bitters, then crush it. Throw in a few big ice cubes and top with three fingers of rye. Stir in the glass. Garnish with orange peel (twist the oils out of it and run it around the rim) and a Luxardo cherry.


What are Bitters?


If you look on Wikipedia, you will find the following definition:


A bitters is traditionally an alcoholic preparation flavored with botanical matter such that the end result is characterized by a bitter, sour, or bittersweet flavor. Numerous longstanding brands of bitters were originally developed as patent medicines, but now are sold as digestifs, sometimes with herbal properties, and cocktail flavorings.


In the current landscape of Craft Cocktail cuisine, bitters is the secret weapon. The custom blending of aromatic bitters, offers an opportunity to infuse an Old Fashioned with specific flavor profiles not readily available through spirits alone.


Here are 4 variations on the classic Old Fashioned:


  1. Oaxacan Old Fashioned


¼ oz. agave nectar

1 slice mandarin orange

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

3oz. añejo tequila

1 splash of club soda


Muddle agave nectar, mandarin slice, and Aztec Chocolate Bitters. Add ice. Pour over tequila. Finish with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a brandied cherry.



  1. Savannah Old Fashioned


1 sugar cube

2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters

2 slices fresh peach

3oz. Bourbon


Muddle sugar cube, Angostura Aromatic Bitters, and fresh peach. Add ice. Pour over bourbon. Finish with a splash of club soda. Garnish with fresh blackberry and a sprig of mint.



  1. Honey Lavender Old Fashioned


1 tsp. honey

2 dashes Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters

3oz. bourbon


Mix honey and Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters. Add ice. Pour over bourbon. Garnish with lemon peel.



  1. Havana Old Fashioned


1 brown sugar cube

2 dashes Bob’s Vanilla Bitters

2oz. dark rum

1oz. black strap rum


Dampen brown sugar cube with Bob’s Vanilla Bitters in a glass. Add both rums. Add ice. Garnish with orange peel.





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