How to Make a Bourbon Old Fashioned

by Michael Satterfield

In 1862 the book Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide: How To Mix Drinks was published, in it was a recipe for an 'Old Fashioned Holland Gin Cocktail.' This drink was made with Gin and while it used most of the elements of a Whiskey Old Fashion, but it is believed to be the first record of a drink called an "Old Fashioned." The story of how Whiskey made its way into the Jerry Thomas' recipe is credited to James E. Pepper, a bartender at The Pendennis Club in Louisville Kentucky. According to a story by The Courier-Journal Pepper first to used Bourbon in 1880 to make the drink, he later took the recipe with him to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.

How much of the story behind the drink is true and how much is folklore is hard to say, but our bartender at the Captial Hotel Bar in Little Rock, told a similar story about the Old Fashion, but he claimed his recipe dated back to 1806, with the addition of muddled fruit making it a refreshing drink on a warm day in the South. The muddling of fruit became more common during Prohibition as a way to disguise lower quality spirits and is a uniquely American take on the drink. 

For this drink, you will need Four Roses Bourbon, Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Peychaud's Bitters, Old Fashioned Bitters, Fresh Orange, Maraschino Cherries, lemon zest. 

  • 3 Whole Maraschino Cherries
  • 1 Slice Fresh Orange
  • 2.5 fl oz 4 Roses Bourbon Whiskey
  • .25 fl oz Angostura Bitters
  • .25 fl oz Old Fashioned Bitters
  • .25 fl oz Peychaud's Bitters
  • .25 fl ox Simple Syrup 
Muddle orange and cherries, add to shaker. Add other ingredients and shake with ice. Fine strain into ice-filled glass. Garnish with lemon or orange zest and a whole maraschino cherry.

Lead Photo by Kayra Sercan via Unsplash