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10 Variations on the Old Fashioned Cocktail

Modern twists on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail.

There is no other whiskey cocktail as simple and suave to make than the classic Old-Fashioned. Bourbon, simple syrup/sugar cube, and bitters are also needed to create an elegant and delectable drink.

The timeless whiskey cocktail has inspired countless variants of the drink over years of experimentation and innovation. Many alterations and flavor substitutions have provided ample room for discovering new variants. A signature twist on the famous whiskey cocktail is coveted amongst many bartenders alike.

Whether you’re a seasoned cocktail enthusiast or need a bright summer refresher, the team at New Riff has explored ten excellent Old Fashioneds variants for you to explore. Let our recipes serve as inspiration for different old-fashioned recipes as you find which flavors you love.

Smoking Rosemary Old Fashioned Recipe

The Smoking Rosemary Old Fashioned is a simple way to add extra taste and beauty to your drink without needing too much attention.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange peel
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 luxardo cherry
  • 4-5 sprigs of rosemary – to make rosemary simple syrup

To make rosemary simple syrup:

  1. Combine ½ cup of water and 4-5 rosemary springs to a light simmer in a saucepan.
  2. Add ½ cup of sugar, stirring until dissolved.
  3. Keep the pan on low heat for 5 minutes, then remove from heat to cool the syrup.
  4. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer, removing any extra rosemary springs.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add 2oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aromatic Angostura Bitters, ½ oz rosemary simple syrup, and ice into a mixing glass
  • Stir, then strain into an old fashioned glass with ice
  • Garnish with an orange peel, luxardo cherry, and smokey rosemary sprig

New Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

There’s no better cocktail to sip on after a long week with our New Old Fashioned recipe. The New Old Fashioned is the perfect cocktail to convince any naysayer of aromatic cocktails to change their mind.

The New Old Fashioned is perfect for drinking during the holidays or any time you find yourself needing to cozy up. The New Old Fashioned is a dynamic cocktail that gives the ideal combination of both citrus and sweet.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • ½ oz demerara simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 luxardo cherry

To make demerara simple syrup:

  1. Combine ½ cup of water and ½ cup of raw sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil, and reduce the pan on low heat for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat to allow the syrup to cool.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Demerara simple syrups, bitters, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into an old-fashioned glass with ice.
  • Garnish with an orange twist and a luxardo cherry.

Meemaw’s Fig Jam Old Fashioned Recipe

Meemaw’s Fig Jam Old Fashioned is a perfect drink for both cozy and crisp weather. This take on the classic Old Fashioned combines perfect flavors that best represent Fall’s greetings. The Fig Jam Old Fashioned is a beautiful addition to anyone’s cocktail recipe arsenal, especially if they need something new for the fall session.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • 1 Heavy Bar Spoon of Fig Jam
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Orange Peel

No simple syrup? No problem. Many of the sweet flavor profiles from this drink come straight from the spoon full of fig jam. Don’t worry, the New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a high-rye bourbon with flavor notes of cinnamon, mint, dark berry amid a finish of red-black fruits, pepper, and clove.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Muddle fig jam in a mixing glass
  • Add New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aromatic Angostura bitters, and ice into mixing glass
  • Stire, then strain into an old fashioned glass with ice
  • Garnish with orange peel to taste

Honey Bourbon Old Fashioned Recipe

This slightly sweet and spicy twist on the classic Old Fashioned is made with honey. This cocktail is perfect for celebrating a quiet night in. When it’s too cold to venture out for a drink, staying home with a Honey Bourbon Old Fashioned feels like a much better choice.

This timeless variation is effortless to make with only honey, water, bitters, bourbon, cherries, and an orange peel to garnish. Enjoy this fantastic cocktail indoors this winter season.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • ½ oz honey syrup
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters (or substitute with orange bitters)
  • 1 luxardo cherry
  • 1 orange peel

To make the honey simple syrup:

  1. Combine ½ cup of honey and ½ cup of water in a saucepan.
  2. Heat the combination for 2 minutes over medium-high heat and stir until honey is dissolved in the water mixture.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, honey simple syrup, bitters, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into an old-fashioned glass with one large ice cube.
  • Garnish with an orange peel and a luxardo cherry.

House Old Fashioned Recipe

The House Old Fashioned is a term that defines how the bartender behind the counter makes their Old Fashioned with the spirits they keep. Creating your signature House Old Fashioned is a staple, so all of your family and friends know exactly what makes your cocktail unique from the rest.

Below is a guide to a traditional cocktail, with some New Riff twists to guide you towards making your own House Old Fashioned.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aromatic Angostura Bitters, 1 oz simple syrup, and ice into a mixing glass
  • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice
  • Garnish with an orange peel

To add a new riff to an old tradition, experiment with the different types of simple syrups you can make. This can be as simple as substituting the syrup for another sweetener like agave nectar or honey or creating an entirely new syrup from scratch. Using a sugar cube is a great way to embody traditions when making a cocktail.

It isn’t abnormal to substitute bourbon or rye with other spirits in your Old Fashioned either. Try switching up the bitters’ flavor from aromatic to orange Angostura to intensify the orange profiles. Lastly, alternate the different garnishing you include on top. Instead of an orange peel, add a lemon peel for a lighter flavor. Consider adding a little bit of maraschino cherry juice for extra dark sweetening.

The Polo Bar Old Fashioned Recipe

Ralph Lauren’s The Polo Bar is a seamless blend of sophistication and all things comfort. For those who can’t post up at the Polo Bar, the recipe below will show you have to make a cocktail similar to Lauren’s classic Old Fashioned right in the comfort of your own home.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ½ oz New Riff Straight Kentucky Bourbon whiskey
  • 1 oz Demerara syrup
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 orange peel
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 dash of Wormwood Bitters

As stated above, making the Demerara syrup is simple. To make demerara simple syrup:

  1. Combine ½ cup of water and ½ cup of raw sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil, and reduce the pan on low heat for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat to allow the syrup to cool.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Demerara simple syrup, bitters, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Garnish with both lemon and orange peels.

Bacon Old Fashioned Recipe

For those who want to relive the bacon craze of the 2010s, we have just the right cocktail for you. Our Bacon Old Fashioned maple syrup is perfect as a substitute for regular sugar in our recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Applewood-smoked bacon
  • 2 oz New Riff Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
  • ½ oz maple syrup
  • 1 dash of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 dash of orange Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 luxardo cherry

To make the bacon-infused bourbon, place bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until the bacon has rendered fat and is beginning to look crispy. Remove the bacon and save for garnishing.

Then, combine the bacon fat with the bourbon. Stir and refrigerate until the fat becomes solid. Strain the bourbon through three layers of coffee filters.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Place New Riff Kentucky Straight Bacon Bourbon, maple syrup, both types of bitters, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stire, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Add a slice of bacon, orange peel, and cherry to garnish.

Cotton Candy Old Fashioned Recipe

The Cotton Candy Old Fashioned cocktail is perfect for those who wish to add a little bit of presentation to their drinks. Your guests will be pleasantly surprised to know that you can make more than the classics with cotton candy on top of this Old Fashioned.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 2 dashes orange Angostura Bitters
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 puff of orange cotton candy

In this Old Fashioned recipe, we skip the simple syrup and opt for orange cotton candy to prevent the cocktail from tasting too sweet. Regular cotton candy may also work with this cocktail, but we chose orange cotton candy with orange Angostura Bitters to maintain consistency in the flavor profile.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, orange bitters, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Garnish with orange peel and top with a puff of cotton candy.

Tequila Old Fashioned Recipe

You may be familiar with good tequila in a beautiful tasting margarita. But you may not know that the spirit is made from agave, a sweet spirit that can be consumed on its own or in refreshing drinks.

The tequila old-fashioned is quite an experimental endeavor. Fortunately, its flavor does not fall short of excellent. The Tequila Old Fashioned lends unique earthy and spicy flavors to the classic taste of a traditional Old Fashioned.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 oz tequila (of your choice)
  • ½ oz agave nectar
  • 1 dash aromatic Angostura Bitters
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 luxardo cherry

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add tequila, aromatic bitters, agave, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Garnish with orange peel and a luxardo cherry.

Newly Fashioned Brother Recipe

The Newly Fashioned Brother is similar to the New Old Fashioned, with a riff on some simple ingredients.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • ½ oz demerara simple syrup
  • 2 dashes aromatic Angostura Bitters
  • 1 orange wedge
  • 1 luxardo cherry
  • Brown sugar to candy the orange

To candy the orange wedges, start by boiling them for roughly 2 minutes. Transfer the slices to an ice bath, discard the water and chill the oranges. Add your demerara simple syrup to a saucepan on medium-low heat, then add the chilled orange slices to simmer for one hour. Stir every 15 minutes to coat them evenly in the syrup. Remove oranges from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack. Coat them in brown sugar before completely drying and serving.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aromatic bitters, demerara simple syrup, and ice into a mixing glass.
  • Stir, then strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  • Garnish with a candied orange wedge and a luxardo cherry.

For more check out our Kentucky bourbon old-fashioned recipe.

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The Classic Manhattan

Whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. The quintessential classic cocktail has made many variations over the past 150 years. People often choose to substitute the traditional 2 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters with cherry juice or even orange bitters. However, a more debated question than cherry juice and bitters use is whether a cocktail tastes better with Bourbon or rye.

Spirit connoisseurs may frequent the debate over which whiskey makes a better Manhattan – American Rye or Bourbon whiskey. Although the original New York cocktail ingredients call for American Rye, bartenders from across the US have quickly adopted a substitution for the spirit with a Bourbon Manhattan variant.

The use of either spirit creates a hint of complexities that other classic aromatic cocktails cannot match. However, many enthusiasts subscribe to their favorite variant on the traditional Manhattan. Which one is best for you?

What is Bourbon?

The use of bourbon whiskey as a substitute for American Rye isn’t a new trend. Many bartenders across the US have made the bourbon addition a welcomed one behind the counter. For over a hundred years, Bourbon has been just as much of a staple in the classic Manhattan as American Rye whiskey.

Bourbon is an American-made whiskey that contains a mash bill of at least 51% corn. The whiskey is distilled at 160 proof or less and stored in new charred oak barrels at 125 proof or less. Straight Bourbon contains zero additives and is aged for a minimum of two years before the bottling process.

The New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a classic bourbon for making delicious Manhattans. Our core bourbon is a high-rye, full-bodied whiskey which flavor characters that include vanilla accents, rye spices, and a finish that includes white pepper, clove, and red-black fruits. Our Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a must-have for nearly any classic aromatic drink.

What is Rye?

By law, American Rye whiskey must be made from a mash bill of at least 51% rye. Like Bourbon, American Rye is stored in barrels at no more than 160 proof and aged in new charred oak barrels at 125 proof. Typically, American Rye whiskey is aged for a minimum of two years and cannot be blended with other spirits or additives to be considered a straight whiskey.

The New Riff Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is full-bodied rye with a spicy character. Our Kentucky Rye features a unique mash bill of 95% rye, 5% malted rye, and aged for four years in new charred oak barrels. Our new riff pulls additional flavors from the rye while adding a touch of elegance from the additional malted rye. Our Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey pairs magnificently with a class Manhattan or other aromatic cocktails.

The Difference in Flavor

The greatest differences between these classic spirits aren’t just the mash bill ingredients but also their flavor profiles. Of course, their components and mash bill play a role in both spirits’ different flavor profiles.

Bourbon tends to taste sweeter, with caramel-like flavors resulting from the heavy corn mash. American Rye whiskey tends to have a bit more spice, with savory undertones in the whiskey’s finish.

American Rye whiskey is typically used over Bourbon in the classic cocktail recipe. This is because an average cocktail recipe calls for sugar or a mixture or sweeter liquors. Some may find that substituting for Bourbon is cloy. However, replacing American Rye with Bourbon is another variant of classic cocktails.

The use of either Rye or Bourbon is up to the person drinking the cocktail. Only they know what they truly like.

Pairing Vermouth with Rye and Bourbon

The difference in Rye and Bourbon whiskey’s flavor profiles means that using specific vermouth is necessary to bring out the broadest flavor profiles present in the drink.

Those who choose to mix their Manhattan with Bourbon might find that sweet vermouth adds a bit too much sweetness to their cocktail. Consider splitting the 1 oz of vermouth into 1/2 sweet and 1/2 dry (Contratto Dry) to balance the flavors.

Just like Bourbon, pairing the right vermouth with American Rye in a Manhattan can also bring out the spicy notes without overpowering the sweet hints. If you wish to stick with the classic American Rye in your Manhattan, pair it with sweet vermouth like Cocchi Storico. Those who want to add a new riff on an old tradition, mix your Manhattan with both 1/2oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth and 1/2oz Contratto Dry Vermouth. We call this the Perfect Manhattan for a reason.

Which is Better, Bourbon or Rye?

Ultimately, choosing either American Rye or Bourbon for your Manhattan is purely up to preference. Some believe that using a bourbon adds too much sweetness to their cocktail, while others who choose bourbon use one similar to New Riff’sRiff’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon as they are high in rye for flavor balance. Others have to have their Manhattan made with rye, as they believe the traditional ingredients make the cocktail a staple.

Check out our flagship whiskeys to start your journey towards the perfect Manhattan cocktail today. Follow us to learn more about New Riff and our relentless commitment to whiskey.

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