Old Fashioned Cocktail You’ll Be Truly Grateful For

Stir this bold Old Fashioned in honor of our multi-century-old national holiday. Not only is this a timeless Thanksgiving cocktail recipe, but it’s also the perfect drink to sip on through a family game of cards after an extravagant roast dinner.

The first reference to a traditional Old Fashioned recipe came in 1806, over a century after the 1621 first harvest feast, which led the way to the current holiday of Thanksgiving. However, as the Old Fashioned is still one of the longest-standing cocktail recipes, it lends well to a Thanksgiving cocktail menu.

Whether this is your first- or fifteenth-time hosting Thanksgiving, a great cocktail menu is a great way to impress your guests. Save this recipe in your bookmarks or browse through the Barillio blog to find more recipes you can recreate using your Barillio bartending kit.

Old Fashioned Ingredients and Kit:

  • Simple syrup
  • Water
  • Bitters
  • Ice
  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Maraschino cherry
  • Orange slice
  • Barillio bartender kit, including jigger and bar-spoon
  • Whiskey glass

What to Expect From This Old Fashioned Recipe

This Barillio Old Fashioned recipe works well at Thanksgiving as a delicious ‘sip as you catch up’ cocktail. The recipe touches on some sweetness from the simple syrup and rounds off the taste with some bitterness from the bitters. Generally, Bourbon is a touch smoother than other whiskeys and finishes each sip with sweet vanilla, oak, and caramelized sugar notes. But of course, the flavors will depend on the brand of Bourbon whiskey you choose to add to your drink.

Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe History

Throughout the 1800s, people started associating any cocktail mixing sugar and water with bitters and any spirit as an Old Fashioned. Therefore, the first reference to an Old Fashioned in 1806 was actually referring to the method of making the cocktail and not the recipe itself.

In the 1880s, the most popular spirit choice for this method was reported to be rye whiskey. Additionally, in 1895, Modern American Drinks printed the first Old Fashioned recipe using whiskey. Thus, the Old Fashioned has been a whiskey-based cocktail ever since.

Thanksgiving Old Fashioned Variations

  • We prefer to use Angostura bitters, but orange bitters also work well, as this is a fall cocktail recipe.
  • Make this drink more memorable and elegant with a round ice cube mold to set this Old Fashioned apart. The one large ice cube in the Old Fashioned glass looks impressive and keeps the drink chilled without over-diluting the cocktail.
  • Although we recommend sticking to the recipe, if you find this cocktail is too strong, add a dash of cold water or soda water to dilute the alcohol.
  • Sometimes, Old Fashioned cocktails are made with a diluted sugar cube to add weight to the drink. However, as this recipe is for a holiday cocktail menu, we suggest using a simple sugar as this is generally a more modern recipe. Plus, using syrup can save you time while preparing drinks for your guests. But feel free to stir in a sugar cube if you prefer the taste of dissolved granulated sugar.


Why are Old Fashioned recipes better stirred?

With the risk of sounding overdramatic, if you see an Old Fashioned recipe tell you to shake your ingredients – run!

Shaking these ingredients is not only unnecessary, as there are no citrus, dairy, or egg ingredients, but it can also bruise the whiskey and create a cloudy drink. Needless to say, this may mean this is the last Thanksgiving your friends and family will trust you to host.

Ok, but in all seriousness, Old Fashioned’s are just better when stirred. The drink cools almost as quickly, and the sugar can melt into the other liquid ingredients easily. Plus, why dirty your shaker unnecessarily? Save your shaker for other cocktails, such as this delicious dessert-worthy chocolate martini.

What’s the difference between whiskey and bourbon?

This Thanksgiving cocktail recipe uses Bourbon. Bourbon is a type of whiskey made in the US in charred oak barrels to give it an earthy, smoky flavor. Bourbon is made with a minimum of 51% corn, making it slightly sweeter than Whiskey. Therefore Bourbon pairs well with the sugar and contrasts with the bitters in this cocktail.

Is an Old Fashioned the same as the Manhattan cocktail?

No – Any good bartender or self-confessed cocktail connoisseur may be able to tell the difference between these whiskey-based drinks by the taste. The Manhattan uses vermouth (a fortified wine with a sweet and dry taste combined with spices and herbs) and can taste somewhat bitter. On the other hand, an Old Fashioned is a tad sweeter as it uses sugar or simple syrup instead of vermouth.

What are the most traditional garnishings on an Old Fashioned?

An Old Fashioned usually uses an orange slice as a garnish, but cocktail cherries are also popular.

When making cocktails at home, you can use a citrus peel twist or a maraschino cherry. Just choose whatever you feel suits the mood the best!

Cheers To Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the team at Barillio. We hope you enjoy some much-needed time away from your work and get to spend time with the people you love. Although we are certainly not experts when it comes to the creamiest mash or juiciest turkey, we are happy to help you shake up some delicious drinks with your Barillio cocktail-making kit to accompany your tasty Thanksgiving dinner.

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