How to Order an Old Fashioned (Avoid MAKING THIS MISTAKE!)


Ah, the Old Fashioned. One of the classic cocktails that look as elegant as it tastes. Given its fancy appearance, it can seem intimidating asking the bartender to order you one.

What if he asks questions about how you want it? Can you even customize the Old Fashioned?

Fortunately, getting an Old Fashioned at the bar is easy, provided you know the terms and what goes in this cocktail.

How you will order Old Fashioned boils down to four things:

Your alcohol base, the brand of alcohol you want, the sweetness or bitterness level, and finally, the garnishing. But before anything else, always remember to check the many if they offer the Old Fashioned in the first place!

Read on as we show you how to order an Old Fashioned like a pro!

What is an Old Fashioned?

The Old Fashioned cocktail is a classic drink usually made from whisky, sugar, bitters, and ice. This cocktail was first mentioned in the Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide in 1862, which listed a drink made of gin. (*)

Fun fact:

Whisky came into the Old Fashioned’s life when James Pepper switched the ingredients in favor of his brand’s bourbon in 1880.

The history of the Old Fashioned is vast, and it’s what gives the drink the classic and elegant vibe to it. In fact, it uses its own glass called the Old Fashioned glass!

Fun fact:

According to Insider, bartenders think that the Old Fashioned is a wise order to ease one’s way into dark liquors. Bartenders love this classic Old Fashioned, but it comes in many variations, so expect the flavors to vary. That’s why you need to know how to order it according to your taste buds!

How to Order an Old Fashioned

A delicious Old Fashioned depends on who is drinking it. It will require knowledge of preferences for smoothness, sweetness, and flavor. With that said, here are tips on how to order an Old Fashioned to suit your tastebuds.

1. Check the Restaurant Menu

For starters, you’ll need to check the menu to see if they offer Old Fashioned in the first place.

You’ll most likely see it in many bars worldwide, though some may modernize it, calling it the “New Fashioned.”

Before heading to the bartender, you’ll want to know your order. After all, you aren’t the only customer; bartenders are busy with everyone else.

Only spend a little bit of time checking what to order when you’re at the bar already.

When it’s time to order, say it all at once, beginning with what kind of whisky you prefer.

Again, bartenders are busy, so you want to be quick.

Start with what whisky brand you want and create adjustments to the drink. For example, a default order would be, “I’ll get a Maker’s Mark Old Fashioned with a lemon twist.”


Speak a bit louder, especially in noisy bars. You might end up having to repeat yourself or getting your order wrong!

2. Customize Your Old Fashioned

There are many ways you can customize your cocktail, such as:

  • Choose if you want your alcohol base to be bourbon, brandy, or rye. These three classic types of whisky bars are offered to make the Old Fashioned or other cocktails. Check the shelves behind the bartender if you need clarification on what the bar offers.
  •  Specify the brand of alcohol you want if you have a favorite one in mind. We recommend adding this, or you may get the cheapest option. The usual brands include Wild Turkey, Johnnie Walker, and Bulleit Bourbon.
  •  Ask if you want your drink to be more sweet or bitter. Since it’s made with bitters, expect it to taste bitter. You can ask for your drink to be sweeter, and they will add fewer bitters.
  •  Some bartenders would top an Old Fashioned with an orange wedge or cherries. The classic Old Fashioned has a lemon twist for a citrus scent; if you want the classic, request for the lemon twist or other garnishes to experiment.


Bourbon is sweeter than other whiskeys, while rye is slightly spicy and brandy with a floral taste. You can also ask the bartender to recommend something for you.

How Do You Make An Old Fashioned?

Get recipe:

Making an Old Fashioned is fairly simple, using these ingredients (*):

  • One shot of rye or bourbon whisky
  • ½ teaspoon of simple syrup or sugar
  • Three dashes of Angostura bitters
  • A splash of water
  • Lemon wedge, cocktail cherry, or orange wedge to garnish

All you need to do is place your sweetener in an Old Fashioned glass, splashing the bitters and letting it sink in for a few seconds. Add a splash of water and wait for another few seconds, and if you used sugar, muddle it until dissolved. Add a big cube of ice, then the whisky. Garnish and serve!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still wondering about the Old Fashioned? Here are frequently asked questions to quench your thirst for curiosity!

Is it OK to order an Old Fashioned at a bar?

Ordering an Old Fashioned at a bar is acceptable, and many bartenders will be happy to make one for you.
There are a few things to keep in mind, though. First, the Old Fashioned is a strong drink, so you may want to order one on the lower end of the scale regarding alcohol content.
Second, let your bartender know if you want it made with bourbon or rye whiskey – they may not know otherwise.
Finally, don’t be surprised if your bartender charges you more for an Old Fashioned than some of their other cocktails.

What is the secret to a good Old Fashioned?

The key to a good Old Fashioned is to use fresh, high-quality ingredients. Try a small batch of bourbon like Woodford Reserve or Four Roses for the bourbon.
As for the bitters, go with something like Angostura or Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters. And for the sugar cube, use quality Demerara sugar.
Try using small-batch cherry and orange liqueurs instead of grenadine if you can find them. Stir all ingredients with cracked ice until well chilled, then strain into a glass and serve neat.

What does an Old Fashioned taste like?

You will taste the whisky used for the cocktail. This drink isn’t designed to mask the alcohol or the main ingredient’s flavor. The sugar will enhance the liqueur’s sweetness, the garnish adds a bit of acid, and the biters bring out the herbal, bitter taste you’ll appreciate.
As the ice melts, the flavor changes, so you get a sweeter finish. The garnish used can change the scent and flavor element of the Old Fashioned. Cherries would have a sweet smell and syrupy flavor, while orange peels bring some acidity to sweet drinks.

Fun fact:

Bars would use a sugar cube to dash bitters and watch it soak into the sugar. However, the sugar you use doesn’t change the flavor.

Wrapping It Up

The next time you’re out in a bar with friends, remember this guide on how to order an Old Fashioned! That way, you’ll sound professional and get the perfect variation of the Old Fashioned you want.

Suppose you want to know more about ordering other drinks, food, and drink substitutions, among other informative topics around food, drinks, and alcoholic beverages. In that case, Nomspedia has all you can learn from!

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