What is bitters for Old Fashioned. How To Make The Best Old Fashioned

The Role of Bitters in an Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time, remaining a beloved staple in bars and homes around the world. At the heart of this timeless drink is the use of bitters – a key ingredient that helps to balance, enhance, and elevate the flavors of the other components.

The Importance of Bitters

Bitters are a concentrated, aromatic infusion of herbs, spices, and botanicals that have been used in cocktails for centuries. They serve as a crucial flavor enhancer, adding depth, complexity, and a touch of bitterness that helps to round out the sweetness of the sugar and the boldness of the spirit. In an Old Fashioned, bitters play a vital role in bringing all the elements together into a harmonious and well-balanced drink.

The Evolution of Bitters

The world of bitters has evolved significantly in recent years, with a wide range of new and innovative products hitting the market. While the classic Angostura bitters remain a staple, bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts now have access to a diverse array of bitters, each with its own unique flavor profile and application.

How To Make The Best Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time, and making the perfect version at home is easier than you might think. The key is to focus on balancing the core ingredients – whiskey, sweetener, and bitters – to create a harmonious and well-rounded drink.

To start, you’ll need a sturdy old fashioned glass. Add 2-3 teaspoons of simple syrup (or a sugar cube) to the glass. The simple syrup helps to gently sweeten and round out the cocktail. If using a sugar cube, you can muddle it with a few dashes of Angostura bitters to help it dissolve.

Next, add 2-3 ounces of your preferred whiskey. Bourbon and rye are the traditional choices, but you can experiment with other spirits like brandy or dark rum. The whiskey should be of good quality, but you don’t need to break the bank – mid-range bottles like Four Roses, Bulleit, or Woodford Reserve work excellently.

After adding the whiskey, fill the glass with large ice cubes or an oversized ice sphere. This helps to properly chill and dilute the drink. Stir the cocktail gently for 20-30 seconds to incorporate all the ingredients and achieve the ideal dilution.

The final touch is the garnish. An orange peel, expressed over the top of the drink to release its aromatic oils, is a classic choice. You can also add a Luxardo cherry for a pop of color and a touch of sweetness.

When it comes to bitters, Angostura is the traditional choice, but you can experiment with other varieties like orange, chocolate, or even tiki-inspired spiced bitters to add your own twist. Start with 2-4 dashes and adjust to taste.

The key to making the best Old Fashioned is to focus on balance. The sweetness should complement the whiskey, the bitters should add depth and complexity, and the overall drink should be smooth, sippable, and true to the classic cocktail. With a little practice, you’ll be mixing up Old Fashioneds that rival those from your favorite bar.

Read More: Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned: A Classic Cocktail for Modern Tastes

Exploring the Best Bitters for an Old Fashioned

When it comes to crafting the perfect Old Fashioned, the choice of bitters can make all the difference. From traditional aromatic bitters to more specialized options, each type of bitters can impart its own distinct character to the drink.

Aromatic Bitters

Aromatic bitters, such as the classic Angostura, are often considered the go-to choice for an Old Fashioned. These bitters are typically characterized by a blend of warming spices, dried fruits, and bittering agents, which complement the whiskey’s flavors and help to balance the sweetness of the sugar.

Orange Bitters

Orange bitters are another popular option for Old Fashioneds, as they can add a bright, citrusy note that helps to lift and accentuate the other flavors. These bitters are often made with a combination of orange peel, spices, and other botanicals, creating a complex and versatile flavor profile.

Specialty Bitters

In recent years, a growing number of specialty bitters have emerged, each with its own unique twist on the traditional aromatic and citrus-forward styles. From cardamom-infused bitters to those with notes of chocolate or coffee, these more specialized options can add an extra layer of complexity and intrigue to an Old Fashioned.

Crafting the Perfect Old Fashioned

When it comes to mixing the perfect Old Fashioned, the choice of bitters is just one piece of the puzzle. The balance and interplay of the other ingredients – the spirit, the sweetener, and the dilution – all play a crucial role in creating a well-rounded and harmonious cocktail.

Spirit Selection

The spirit used in an Old Fashioned is typically a high-quality whiskey, such as bourbon or rye. The choice of whiskey can have a significant impact on the overall flavor profile of the drink, with different styles and expressions offering varying degrees of sweetness, spice, and complexity.

Sweetener Selection

The sweetener used in an Old Fashioned is traditionally simple syrup, though some bartenders and enthusiasts prefer to use alternative sweeteners, such as maple syrup or the syrup from Luxardo cherries. The amount and type of sweetener used can also influence the final character of the cocktail.

Dilution and Garnish

The level of dilution, achieved through the addition of ice and stirring, is crucial in balancing the flavors and mouthfeel of an Old Fashioned. Additionally, the choice of garnish, such as an orange twist or a Luxardo cherry, can add a final touch of aroma and visual appeal to the drink.

The Art of Experimentation

While there are certainly classic and well-established approaches to crafting an Old Fashioned, the beauty of this cocktail lies in its versatility and the opportunity for experimentation.

Mixing and Matching Bitters

One of the joys of exploring the world of Old Fashioneds is the ability to mix and match different bitters to create unique flavor profiles. By combining aromatic, orange, and specialty bitters in various proportions, bartenders and enthusiasts can endlessly explore new and exciting variations on the classic.

Exploring Alternative Spirits

While whiskey is the traditional spirit used in an Old Fashioned, some bartenders and enthusiasts have experimented with using alternative spirits, such as rum, tequila, or even mezcal. These substitutions can result in fascinating and unexpected flavor combinations that challenge the boundaries of the classic cocktail.

The Importance of Experimentation and Personalization

Ultimately, the beauty of the Old Fashioned lies in its ability to be personalized and tailored to individual tastes and preferences. By embracing experimentation and an open-minded approach, bartenders and enthusiasts can discover new and exciting ways to enjoy this timeless cocktail.

Embracing Personal Preferences

When it comes to crafting the perfect Old Fashioned, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each individual’s palate and preferences will dictate the specific combination of ingredients and techniques that work best for them. The key is to be open-minded, curious, and willing to explore

The Joy of Discovery

The process of discovering the perfect Old Fashioned can be a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience. By trying different bitters, spirits, and sweeteners, bartenders and enthusiasts can embark on a journey of flavor exploration, uncovering new and unexpected delights along the way.


The Old Fashioned is a testament to the power of simplicity and the importance of balance. At the heart of this classic cocktail is the use of bitters, which play a crucial role in bringing all the elements together into a harmonious and well-rounded drink.

As the world of bitters continues to evolve, bartenders and enthusiasts have an ever-expanding array of options to explore and experiment with. By embracing this diversity and approaching the Old Fashioned with an open and curious mindset, they can unlock a world of flavor possibilities, each one more delightful and satisfying than the last.


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