The Old(er) Fashioned

Contributed by

Up until a few years ago, it was a truly rare occurrence for a customer to walk into my bar and order an Old Fashioned. As soon as I’d recover from the surprise, I would access the Rolodex of recipes in my mind and set out to fix the drink as I was taught.

I started by muddling the sugar and bitters with an orange wheel, brandied cherries and lemon twist. A splash of club soda and some whiskey, and it was done.

As trends tend to follow a merciless cycle of recurrence, slowly the cocktail has made its comeback, and man, what a comeback it is! Now guests of all ages request Old Fashioneds every night, and it’s one of the best-selling classic drinks at my bar Employees Only in New York.

But with its resurgence in popularity has come a debate as to how you should make an Old Fashioned. While many like it with muddled fruit (which was probably added to the concoction during Prohibition), others prefer the even-earlier recipe that calls for only a fruit garnish. In fact, “Old Fashioned” originally referred to the primeval definition of a cocktail: a mix of liquor, sugar, water and bitters.

No matter which version you like, if you’re out, please specify the way you want it. There’s nothing old-fashioned about that.

Classic Old Fashioned

Contributed by Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas


Garnish: Lemon and orange twists

Glass: Rocks

In a rocks glass, muddle both sugars, both bitters and the water. Add the whiskey and a large ice cube. Twist slices of lemon and orange peel over the drink and drop them in.

Contemporary Old Fashioned

Contributed by Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas


Garnish: Orange half-wheel, brandied cherry and lemon twist
Glass: Rocks

In a rocks glass, muddle the orange, cherries, lemon twist, sugars and bitters. Remove the lemon and orange peels and discard. Add a splash of club soda and fill with large ice cubes. Carefully pour the whiskey on top. Finish with another splash of club soda and garnish with an orange half-wheel, brandied cherry and lemon twist.
Dushan Zaric is the co-owner of popular New York City bars Employees Only and Macao Trading Co., and the co-author of Speakeasy. He is also a advisor.


  • Chris posted 3 years ago

    If you're going to use Maraschino cherries, use the real deal -- Luxardo -- available from Kegworks. Also, you can save a lot of muddling by making a 2:1 Demerara sugar syrup (add gum arabic for a genuine bartender's gomme syrup -- see the recipe in Dave Wondrich's Imbibe!).

    If you live in Australia or nearby, try making this with Tasmanian spiced cherries.

  • editor posted 3 years ago

    You can substitute maraschino for brandied cherries in this recipe (and all cocktail recipes, for that matter). However, brandied cherries tend to have a more complex flavor than maraschino cherries, which can be overly sweet, which is why many bartenders prefer them.

  • Luke posted 3 years ago

    What happened to the Maraschino cherries? No one likes em anymore?

  • Bryan posted 3 years ago

    Old fashioneds are to never be fizzy. Soda pop is for little kidies who also think that martinis can be made with vodka.

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