How to make the perfect old fashioned

The fundamentals of a late-night classic

The old fashioned – the serious, ageless cocktail that is flawless in every way – embodies everything that a drink should yearn to be. It has operated across the decades with a flavour that embraces universal tastes – the easy bite of the bourbon; the gentle diffusion of the sugar; the mystical pleasure that comes with the spiky flicks of bitters – and an ingredient list extensive enough to allow the maker to easily tinker things to his taste, but unfussy enough not to warrant a late-night trip to the store in search of extras. The punch it packs is heavy enough to relieve the hurt of the day’s pains; soft enough to slug a few more rounds by night’s end.

There have been many superb interpretations of the libation – from smoked ice to brown butter and a few nudging extremely close to a dessert in their heavy use of sweetened purées – but one we have a weak spot for is Rabbit Hole Distillery’s classic recipe. There are only three steps and the ingredients are fairly basic, so as not to overwork the simple beauty of the drink. After all, as Don Draper, the frontman of the old-fashioned industry, if there ever were one, once said: “Make it simple, but significant.”


  • 1 tspn sugar (or 2 tspns simple syrup)
  • 2–3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 tspn water
  • 2.5oz premium Dareringer bourbon (or, if you prefer it spicier, rye whiskey)
  • 1 orange twist (for garnish)


  1. Add the sugar (or simple syrup) and bitters to a rocks glass, then add the water and stir until the sugar is nearly dissolved (or the simple syrup is blended).
  2. Fill the glass with large ice cubes, add premium bourbon and gently stir to combine.
  3. Express the oil of an orange twist while holding it over the glass, then drop it into the glass to garnish.

This feature was taken from Gentleman’s Journal’s Winter 2023 issue. Read more about it here.

Want more cocktail classics? Here’s how to make the perfect martini…

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