Mix Up Your Next Old Fashioned With This Small Change

The old-fashioned is one of mixology's oldest cocktails — and also one of the simplest. Bitters and water are muddled with a sugar cube or simple syrup, and the mixture is served on the rocks with whiskey and a citrus peel garnish. This classic cocktail was originally called a whiskey cocktail, which morphed into an old-fashioned whiskey cocktail and over time became what we know today as an old-fashioned. While rye, bourbon, or blended whiskey are all commonly used, other types of whiskey can add a twist to the flavor profile. As Sinfire Whisky marketing brand manager Zack Crowe told Mashed, "Adding in a flavored whiskey works really well with the bitters and orange to round out the cocktail and add a nice twist on the classic drink."

Since old-fashioneds are basically sweetened whiskey with bitters and garnish, as Liquor.com notes, one twist is to replace the sugar with a sweetened whiskey that includes honey, maple, or chocolate. "In mixology, the goal should always be balance, which is the hallmark of a great cocktail. Heat, flavor, sweet, and bitters, all in fine harmony," Paul Tuell, president and founder of Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, told Mashed. "Bringing a sweet chocolate whiskey into an old-fashioned recipe in place of the simple syrup is a fantastic way to add that balancing sweetness a cocktail strives for, but with an exciting added layer of flavor and complexity."

Use a fruity, nutty, or spicy whiskey in your next old-fashioned

Feeling inspired to switch up your old-fashioned? Try adding a flavored whiskey that's fruity, nutty, or spicy. After the Prohibition days, it became popular to make a fruity version of an old-fashioned by muddling cherries and orange slices into the drink, according to NYT Cooking. To recreate this recipe, an equal amount of orange- and cherry-flavored whiskeys can bring in that fruity essence without the hassle of muddling fresh fruit. If you're feeling something more warm and toasty, some whiskeys naturally have nutty elements that are infused into the whiskey during distillation from the wood barrels, particularly if sherry casks are used (via WhiskyRant!). Using a toasted bourbon, pecan, or peanut butter whiskey can help emphasize those natural nut elements and enhance the sweet and savory nature of the cocktail.

Finally, whiskey is often thought of as having a spicy backbone — particularly ryes, which often have notes of pepper, Whisky Advocate writes. Using a whiskey infused with warm flavors, whether from traditional baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or something like chile powder, Tabasco, or sriracha, can imbue the cocktail with a bit of a kick. As Zack Crowe told Mashed, "The old-fashioned is one of my favorite cocktails to play around with due to its versatility and simplicity. Traditionally, folks liked to swap out the bourbon for rye to add some spice to the cocktail, so why not substitute a base sprit with some real spice such as cinnamon or sriracha and make it a truly bold-fashioned."