How to Make an Old Fashioned Cocktail

If you’ve ever wanted to make an Old Fashioned cocktail at home, this recipe from Home Cocktail Bible by Olly Smith is just what you need! If, like us and our book reviewer Nicky, you have a bourbon collection that’s somehow always growing, this is a great way to use it in a tasty, classic cocktail.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Read our full review of Olly Smith’s Home Cocktail Bible here.

Old Fashioned Cocktail
5 from 5 votes

Old Fashioned Cocktail

It’s impossible to drink an Old Fashioned and not feel that you’ve stepped slightly deeper within yourself. Stretching back to the early 1800s, its roots linger through numerous variations woven through sweetness and an enduring burnished character that suggests low-lit, carefree dates and time to kill. I find it dreamy and reflective, the thickening texture of the sugar syrup expanding through that resonant, orangey bourbon and hypnotic amber trailing around a singular icy monolith. It’s the equivalent of drinking what I imagine a bonfire would taste like if it was laced with demerara sugar and the well-wishes of all the fairies and gods hidden giggling in the shadows. Perhaps it’s the echo of the charred oak that bourbon soaks into as it mellows and ages that brings this to the fore. I certainly love sipping an Old Fashioned at a barbecue. It stands for steadfast resolve – at a time when whisky cocktails became fancier and more convoluted, simple Old Fashioned cocktails held firm. The straightforward nature of the drink is, I suspect, what allows space for gentle sips to bring richer ideas to unpromising conversations, and the Old Fashioned strikes me as one of those rare cocktails where one is either too much or plenty. I witnessed this first-hand in the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, which lays claim to the place where sugar syrup and muddled fruit first featured in the Old Fashioned. Who knows how much truth there is to this; all I can say for sure is that my drinking companion’s appetite for the Old Fashioned was as undimmed as the dawn which crept imperceptibly around us as we continued gently chuckling into the rising light.
Servings 2 people
Author Olly Smith


  • 60 ml (2oz) bourbon
  • 7.5 ml (¼oz) simple syrup (make simple syrup by dissolving sugar in water, equal amounts of sugar to water)
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1/2 orange slice
  • 1/2 lemon slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Recipe Notes

Ice: Cubed
Garnish: Orange slice and cherry
Equipment: Muddler, long bar spoon
Note: This is traditionally made in the glass it’s served in but you can also make it in a shaker then pour over ice.


  • Muddle the orange, lemon and maraschino cherry in a glass
  • Use a long bar spoon to discard the fruit pulp
  • Add the bourbon, simple syrup and bitters
  • Stir gently to combine
  • Add ice (ideally one oversized cube)
  • Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry
  • For a sweeter, smokier drink swap the simple syrup for maple syrup.

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Home Cocktail Bible by Olly Smith from publisher Quadrille. Photography by Nicky Bramley. 

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15 Comments to "How to Make an Old Fashioned Cocktail"

  1. Jennie

    I tried this recipe yesterday and I absolutely love this cocktail ! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

  2. Kelly

    I’m not much for cocktails, but I can also envision myself sitting around a campfire sipping on an old fashion cocktail. It sounds perfect for a cooler summer night.

  3. Tabitha

    My son is an Old Fashion snob! I’m going to make this recipe for him at Thanksgiving. I will update you on he’s comments😜. I’m excited to try it too!

  4. Bubble Tea Island

    Wow, your article on the Old Fashioned is quite a vivid and romantic tribute to this classic cocktail! I love how you’ve described the drink’s timeless character and how it can transport you to another place and time. Your thoughts on its simplicity and the role it can play in sparking conversations and bringing people together is spot on. I especially enjoyed your reflection on the bourbon’s aging process and the echoes of the charred oak that contribute to the drink’s flavor profile. Your story of experiencing the Old Fashioned at the Pendennis Club in Louisville is a delightful touch, and I can imagine how the drink and the setting came together to create a memorable moment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and appreciation for the Old Fashioned!


    All of that writing in the recipe summary is by Olly Smith who wrote the book that this recipe is from, and which we were kindly given permission to republish here.


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