How to make a perfect Old Fashioned

You cannot get more classic than the Old Fashioned, a humble concoction of four, simple ingredients; whiskey, sugar, bitters and ice.

The Old Fashioned was developed during the early 19th century and given its name in the 1880s, so it’s literally one of the cocktails upon which all mixology is built.

It is said that the fewer ingredients, the harder a cocktail is to master. This is because even the smallest variation in preparation, down to the size of the ice cube, will affect the result.

Here is a recipe that, if followed exactly, we guarantee will make a perfect classic Old Fashioned every time, and a also works as a great starting point to experiment with different variations.

Perfect classic Old Fashioned Recipe


  • 2 oz./6cl rye or bourbon
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 large ice cube (or 2-3 normal sized cubes)
  • slice of orange peel


Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass or whisky tumbler.

Wet it down with Angostura bitters, crush the sugar with a wooden muddler and rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining.

Add a large ice cube. Pour in the whiskey.

Stir until chilled and properly dilluted, about 30 seconds (depending on the size of the ice cube).

Gently twist the orange peel over the cocktail, so that some of the aromatic oils from the peel land in the glass.

Garnish with the orange twist and serve immediately.

Rye or Bourbon?

Because Old Fashioned is built on Whiskey, and the other ingredients are only accents, it matters a lot which whiskey you use and whether to use bourbon or rye is all up to your personal preference.

If you prefer a dryer, slightly peppery Old Fashioned, then go for a rye.

If you, on the other hand, want a slightly sweeter, rounder and richer flavour, go for a Bourbon.

Reach for the top shelf

Quality matters, and no matter whether you choose a bourbon or rye, go for the top shelf. Life is too short for bad whiskey and you don’t want your delicate work to be spoiled just because you wanted to save and extra $20 on a bottle.

The Old Fashioned glass

The old fashioned glass, sometimes referred to as a lowball glass, is a short tumbler used for serving spirits, such as whisky, neat or on the rocks.

Old fashioned glasses typically have a wide brim and a thick base, so that the non-liquid ingredients of a cocktail can be mashed using a muddler before the main liquid ingredients are added.

Common variations

A common variant is to substitute the sugar cube with simple syrup, which was the prefferred method of David A. Embury. I tend to agree with Mr Embury. Using simple syrup ensures that it gets dissolved before the drink is to dilluted with water from the ice.

Another variant is to substitute the orange peel for a lemon peel, which gives a slightly fresher aroma, great for an outdoor summer night. I prefer orange with bourbon and lemon with rye, as orange goes well with the sweetness of bourbon, while lemon gives a freshness to the rye.

The peel can also be accompanied by or substituted for a maraschino cherry.


A gentleman’s guide to akvavit

Ah, akvavit. The drink of the cold, dark north. Enjoyed by Scandinavians for hundreds of year, but lately gaining more and more international recognition.

What is akvavit?

Akvavit, from the latin aqua vitae – water of life – is a distilled spirit that originated in Scandinavia, where it has been produced since the 15th century.

It gets it’s distinctive flavour from spices and herbs, and according to EU law, the minimum ABV is 37.5% and the dominant flavour must come from caraway and/or dill seed.

How to drink akvavit

Traditionally, akvavit is drunk during festive gatherings, such as Christmas, Midsummer and crayfish parties, chilled, as shots during the meal. In Sweden, it is mostly consumed immediately following a song, called snapsvisa, of which the most known one is “Helan går”.

Lately, however, akvavit is getting more and more common as a drink ingredient, both for cocktails and long drinks. For instance, akvavit and tonic – often garnished with a twig of dill – is an excellent digestive after a meal.

Two main styles

There are two distinctive reginal styles of akvavit. Traditionally, the Danish and Swedish aquavit is lighter in both color and taste, while the Norwegian akvavit is often darker, due to being matured in oak casks. This also gives it more complex flavours, loved by some but which might make it too overwhelming as a drink ingredient or with food, and better suited as an aperitif.

Linje akvavit

Perhaps the most exotic style of akvavit is the Norwegian Linje Akvavits. Linje Aquavit is named after the tradition of sending oak barrels of aquavit with ships from Norway to Australia and back again. This means that the akvavite passes the equator (“linje”) twice before being bottled.

The constant movement, high humidity and fluctuating temperature cause the spirit to extract more flavour and contributes to accelerated maturation and higher complexity.

Which akvavit should I try?

If you want to start easy with a smooth akvavit that is not too overwhelming, then Swedish O.P. Anderson and Danish Aalborg are great picks. They are both versatile and can be used both as aperitifs, shots during the meal and as drink ingredients.

If, on the other hand, you want to dive in to something more rich and complex right away, Lysholm Linje, is dark, rich and complex, and best drunk sipped as an aperitif.