An Adaptable Old-Fashioned Cocktail

An Adaptable Old-Fashioned Cocktail

The old-fashioned is infinitely forgiving. Originally named “whiskey cocktail,” it’s a stirred, spirit-forward drink classically based on bourbon or rye. But out of want or necessity, you can venture outside tradition. This version uses 2-to-1 “rich” simple syrup, which is sweeter and thicker than the standard 1-to-1 ratio of sugar and water, but allows you to use less without sacrificing texture. This cocktail offers many a substitution; the only nonnegotiable is to use a spirit you like, as it serves as leading lady in this cocktail hour.
  • Serves: 1 person



  1. Step 1

    Prepare the simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar with 1/4 cup water. Heat over low, stirring frequently, just until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately. (Remaining syrup will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.)
  2. Step 2

    Prepare the cocktail: In an ice-filled mixing glass, combine the whiskey, prepared syrup and bitters. Stir until well chilled, about 15 seconds. (If using a sugar cube, muddle it with a dash of water and the 3 to 4 dashes bitters before stirring it with the whiskey over ice.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into an ice-filled rocks glass and finish with the citrus twist.