Old Fashioned, Cubed and Syruped

As a bartender I find that I’m constantly being asked what my favorite cocktail is, to which I have always replied that I don’t have a favorite cocktail, but that what I truly enjoy is change and when I frequent my local watering hole it is a rare occasion indeed that I would order the same drink twice.

Another question that I’m often asked is what the “best” cocktail is, to which I have to reply that there is no such thing as a “best” cocktail. I usually then bring out the analogy of shoes (I used to mention cars, but that was lost on much of the fairer sex). I ask what they would consider to be the “best” pair of shoes. There is usually a pause to which I answer the question for them: “Best for what? Dancing? Hiking? Boating? Work? Winter? Summer? The shoes that one chooses depend upon the time, your needs and your attitude. It is the same with a cocktail”.

Having said that, it has come to my conclusion that while I may not have a “go to” cocktail, I definitely have a favorite style of libation: that of the venerable Old Fashioned.

While it may be true that I can’t recall the last (or first) time that I have actually ordered an Old Fashioned in a bar, panning over some of my older posts I became aware that I’ve mentioned the Old Fashioned or a variation of it several times, which got me to thinking: whenever I’m at home, nine times out of ten, when I’m wanting of a cocktail, I’m going to make myself an Old Fashioned or similar concoction. And while I may not be able to remember the last time I ordered an Old Fashioned in a bar, it wasn’t that long ago that I ordered one of its more famous variants: the Sazerac. But I digress.

The Old Fashioned refers to, of course, the Old Fashioned Cocktail. It was as early as the 1870’s when the discerning drinker began to tire of all the new cocktail variations and just wanted an old fashioned (or original) cocktail, which as I’m sure we all know by now, consisted simply of a spirit, water, bitters and sugar. There was no ice in the finished drink (one must realize that ice during this time was a luxury, and would never have been just given away to a customer’s unless absolutely necessary!) and heaven help the barkeep that threw in a fruit salad of orange and cherry: such an action was liable to get the man shot! The Cocktail was a simple drink, made in simpler times, but oh the chorus of angels that made their presence known when this amazingly deep and complex concoction was first put to the imbiber’s lips and past his gullet.


2 oz rye whiskey (or quality dry bourbon)
3 goodly dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters
1 sugar cube (or ¼ oz rich simple syrup)
dash of club soda (if not using simple syrup)
place the sugar cube into a chilled mixing glass
wet the cube with Angostura and soda
crush the cube with a muddler
add rye and stir
add ice and stir until well chilled
strain into a chilled rocks glass
garnish and add ice at your own peril

As great as the Old Fashioned is, as with most things in life, there is always room for improvement. Those that are familiar with my recipes know that I am always looking for ways to add or compact as much flavor and complexity as possible when creating cocktails, and to this end, I’ve come up with the Cubed Old Fashioned. In this variation, I’ve tripled the number of spirits, I’ve tripled the types of bitters and even complicated the sugar by making a syrup with three ingredients, not one of which is water (more on this later). In the creation of the Cubed Old Fashioned, I’ve added just as much flavor as is humanly possible, and the only way to go further would be to add a scotch or absinthe rinse. Sometimes one has to just let things be (as hard as that may be for the likes of this bartender).

My “eureka!” moment for this cocktail came when I decided to create an Old Fashioned within the Old Fashioned by making a syrup to replace the normally used sugar out of the ingredients that one would find in a traditional Old Fashioned.  In other words, I replaced the water with rye and bitters when making the syrup, and for added complexity I employed turbinado sugar instead of refined white sugar (demerara or raw sugar will work wonders as well). I’ve now made other syrups using this technique and am in absolute love with how they enrich cocktails. Good examples have been a Caipirinha syrup using lime peel, cachaca and white sugar, as well as Margarita syrup with tequila, orange bitters, sugar and honey. As you can see, the possibilities are endless and the syrups don’t have to be used solely with the cocktails after which they are named.

Enough talk, let’s mix up a:


¾ oz Remy VSOP (or any good cognac)
¾ oz Appleton V/X (or any good rum)
¾ oz Rittenhouse 100 (or any good rye/bourbon)
½ oz Old Fashioned syrup
1 dash Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Angostura orange bitters
stir all ingredients with ice
strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with one giant ice chunk
garnish with orange zest and brandied cherry resting on the top of the glass

Old Fashioned Syrup

200 mL Bourbon or rye
100 mL Angostura bitters
550 mL Turbinado sugar
5 cloves
7 allspice
3 star anise
stir ingredients in a pot over low heat until all sugar is incorporated
let cool
strain and funnel into a sanitized bottle
add 1 oz of bourbon/rye to help preserve your syrup

While I don’t ordinarily add ice to my Old Fashioneds, the Cubed Old Fashioned is so complex that I feel it requires a large chunk of ice. If you don’t have a large chunk of pristine ice on hand (and the sad reality is that few of us do), the least you can do is order one of these trays. If both options fail you, try the drink without ice, as small ice cubes will just muck up the dynamics of this powerful, yet elegant libation.

Try other iterations of the Old Fashioned by subbing out the sugar/syrup with a variety of liqueurs (St Germain, Crème Yvette, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Fernet, or Canton ad infinitum) or swapping out the spirits and bitters and you’ll find that this is a cocktail that has no bounds. Leave comments below to tell me of some of your newfound Old Fashioned variations, or experiments with new types of flavor-packed syrups.

Happy mixing!

Cubed Old Fashioned

Cubed Old Fashioned

Picture by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer



~ by Jamie Boudreau on October 23, 2010.

45 Responses to “Old Fashioned, Cubed and Syruped”

  1. Sound really nice. Lets hope this doesn’t show up in the Maker’s Mark competition tomorrow here in Holland.

    And I really loved the cherries filled with an Old Fashioned mixed that you posted long ago!

  2. Love your shoe analogy. I’m on a bit of a kick to try to help bridge the cocktail divide and that’s definitely going to come in handy. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing it?

    As for the cubed old-fashioned. My lord! That’s challenging and kind of meta as well. Raises an interesting question of whether cocktails can be high art rather than craft. Can the excite the intellect as well as the taste buds?

    I sense some research will be required.

  3. I like the thinking that went into this, and the playful exploration of ingredients. I’m curious, though, about what point a variation becomes a wholly new drink. Is this still an old fashioned when you’re upending every part of the traditional recipe? It’s an interesting question to me.

  4. As fall is underway, and pumpkin ales are back on the market, I’ve found that an Old Fashioned made with Rittenhouse 100 and your Pumpkin Ale Syrup is quite tasty, and season-appropriate!


  5. Just lovely, Jamie. I couldn’t even conceptualize it before I tried it. The flavors jostle on your tongue then slip away into pleasant orange and syrup. I used your recipe except instead of your special syrup I used the usual syrup with a drop of sambuca and muddled orange zest. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Really glad to see you’re posting again! You were the first I followed and my most revered as far as blogs are concerned. Please keep up the much appreciated work for all of our sakes.

  7. […] Old Fashioned, Cubed and Syruped […]

  8. “As great as the Old Fashioned is, as with most things in life, there is always room for improvement. … Sometimes one has to just let things be (as hard as that may be for the likes of this bartender).”

    If only you’d come to realize the latter a few minutes sooner…

    Seeing as the old fashioned only exists because folks who couldn’t “let things be” insisted on calling things cocktail that didn’t meet the definition of cocktail, it’s particularly grating that the old fashioned is having its name co-opted nightly. I wonder when we’ll need a new name for spirit-sugar-bitters-water…too soon, I imagine.

  9. Kyle makes an interesting point. Wouldn’t you have to give your version of the Old Fashioned a new name since it hardly contains any of the same ingredients? I think its probably an excellent drink – why not take credit and give it a new name?

  10. Kyle and Bars&Bartending:
    I don’t see this as “upending” or really deviating from the Old Fashioned recipe at all. In fact, as far as things go, I’ve really changed little.
    The Old Fashioned historically was made with whatever spirit one could find, and more often than not, that was rum, rye and if you were lucky, Cognac.All I’ve done is use all three, which makes for a complex spirit. If you were to taste the mixture straight, you’r probably guess it was a single spirit and not a blend (which, by the way is how most whiskeys and pretty much all cognacs and rums are made).
    As for using three bitters, bitters themselves are complex flavours, and I assure you that Angostura was not the go to bitters in the original old fashioned cocktail. If I were to make a homemade bitters that incorporated all the flavours of the three mentioned, would that be ok for you? The reason that I chose the brands of bitters listed was their proximity to the now defunct Boker’s bitters that you can no longer get. Anywhere.
    Finally, the sugar. Sure I’ve used a flavoured sugar, my only true deviation, but it is flavoured with ingredients already in the cocktail, so I truly don’t see the harm.
    Gentlemen, I urge you to make the Cubed Old Fashioned and then decide if it doesn’t exactly resemble an Old Fashioned, only with much more complex nuances and flavour notes.

  11. Dear Jamie,

    Quick question regarding the “Old Fashioned Syrup”: your last step instructs us to add 1.00 oz of bourbon/rye to preserve the syrup (presumably after it has been funneled into a sanitized container) — are we supposed to shake the syrup so that the bourbon/rye is incorporated into mixture, or do we just let it float on top when we seal the container?

    Thanks for sharing your innovative thoughts and experiences with us regarding this classic cocktail!


  12. The addition of the rye is only if you plan to have the syrup around for months and do not plan to refrigerate it. If that is the case, yes, add the rye and shake or stir to incorporate.
    This syrup will last for months and months if kept in the fridge though.

  13. Nice post and nice photo, when I will have time I will try the Cubed Old Fashion.
    Will give some feedback

    Best regards

  14. Im with you 100% on the old fashioned, though I remember going through a faze of loathing having to make them. With regards to syrup I used to incorporate velvet falernum into any of the lime based ones with a lot of success. Any ideas for a christmas old fashioned, Im thinking of flaming a mixture of dried spices in cherry bandy in the tumbler prior to assembly, any thoughts? My passion now is whiskey so anything related to this is greatly appreciated.


  15. James:
    If you try the Cubed Old Fashioned it is VERY christmassy, what with all of the Xmas spices in it. As for your Cherry brandy idea, the only way to know for sure is to try it! Sounds like it might work though I’d be concerned about serving this drink in a warm glass.

  16. The Sazerac is my drink o’ choice, it’s one more taste aspect past the Old Fashioned, with the absinthe. A well-balanced Sazerac is a great thing.

  17. […] Завершением этой статьи о вариантах Old Fashioned станет моя адаптация коктейля Cubed Old Fashioned авторства Jamie Boudreau. […]

  18. Loved this blog, especially some of the examples of the experimentations you’ve done with it.

    I will be trying out a few of these in coming days I think.

  19. […] the full blog, including all the recipes here: “Old Fashioned, Cubed and Syruped.” I will be trying out one of these recipes […]

  20. Good stuff Maynerd. I like me some of the Old Fashioned style drinks myself. I have to check this out sometime and mix some up.

  21. Impress your friends with these cocktail recipe at your next occasion. http://goo.gl/AMKie

  22. […] this thrill packed series but to be considered the best drink tried all year … Jamie Boudreau’s Cubed Old Fashioned of course.  While his post and drink are in no way new, I only recently undertook to make […]

  23. As for the naming debate,…

    It’s called the “CUBED Old-Fashioned”, not the “Old-Fashioned”. It is the same specification as saying Rye Old-Fashioned vs. Brandy Old-Fashioned. The O.F. is a CLASS of drink, not a specific drink with it’s own name like the Manhatten or the Scofflaw. Gin Fizz, Silver Fizz, etc.,… Rye Old-Fashioned, Cubed Old-Fashioned, etc.,…

  24. […] sugar and a few dashes of bitters and I’m set. The wonderful thing about the Old Fashioned is how varied the flavors can be in a drink that is decidedly simple and […]

  25. I prefere using good quality mapple syrup than the old fashioned syrup and good gentle dashes of scrappy choco.
    Stunning recipe. Favorite for the moment and for a while. Bravo !

  26. […] Extra Old — it emphasizes the bourbon and cognac a bit more — but as he recommends in his original post, try it out with a number of different spirits and sweeteners (he used Appleton V/X and Rittenhouse […]

  27. Jamie, I always love your style and information – you’ve added a LOT to my home-cocktail enthusiasm.

    My Old Fashioned recipe is fairly standard but I also go the route of replacing granulated sugar with some kind of syrup to cut down on time and risk of grittiness at the bottom of the glass.

    Lately, I’ve been grooving on my own Rich Brown Sugar Syrup (2:1), 3 dashes of Angostura and 2 dashes of either Reagan’s or Angostura Orange Bitters. If I have a stronger sweet tooth I’ll go with Fee’s Orange (less complex, more orange-sweet). Maker’s is great for that sweet tooth, too, or if I want a more complex, dark and smokey variant – Knob Creek, Dickel, or 46.

  28. […] middle of another fun series that I began to play around (and play I have) with Jamie Boudreau’s Cubed Old Fashioned.  I’ve mixed up the original version, a Manhattan version, a Margarita version, a Mojito […]

  29. […] https://spiritsandcocktails.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/old-fashioned-cubed-and-syruped/ […]

  30. […] Old Fashioned, Cubed and Syruped Share this:TwitterFacebookTumblrMoreRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Category : September 2012 Tags : cocktail, Fernet, guru, mad men, mixologist, old fashioned, rum, rye […]

  31. […] we turned to a formula that we have beaten and beaten into submission — Jamie Boudreau’s Cubed Old Fashioned recipe.  The Two-wide of Bid-Offer is inspired by our recent R&R trip and a dessert experience […]

  32. […] a favorite (yet) because I have not made it (yet), my mind is pretty well blown by just the idea of Jamie Boudreau’s Old Fashioned, Cubed, where the sweetener for the old-fashioned is made from an old-fashioned (essentially), and then he […]

  33. This is nice one. I like it and also bookmark this article. Anybody can hire cocktail bartender from our company.

  34. […] a number of which are still in regular rotation in my home – the superbly delicious Cubed Old Fashioned remains one of my all-time favorites.  But of all the obscure, bizarre and outlandish recipes I […]

  35. […] The next cocktail is a grand finale for my post. That’s an unpretentious adaptation of the grandiose Cubed Old Fashioned by Jamie Boudreau. […]

  36. […] of Old-Fashioneds. I won’t reprint it here – you can find the recipe in detail here. Click it. Make it. Drink […]

  37. Thanks for sharing great article, I like and love it and also bookmark this article. Thanks again.

  38. Your blog is true and awesome.Thanks for sharing this blog .

  39. Thanks a lot .It is important and useful post.

  40. Very soon this web site will be famous amid all blog users, due to it’s nice articles

  41. For me it’s all about a Rum old Fashioned at the end of a great night, but sometimes theres just no beating that purebred original. Loved the Cubed recipe

  42. Nice exotic cocktail

  43. Great Share..

    I love the drink as old Rum lover. I can’t wait sharing this great drink with my friends also..


  44. Hi, this looks so pretty and I am sure it is refreshing. I have had a hectic day today and would really enjoy this about now. I just read your ‘About’ page and you sound so talented and accomplished, kudos to you!

  45. […] darn good one, using a standard formula of spirits + bitters + sugar**. Then I came across a recent blog post on Jamie Boudreau’s spiritsandcocktails.com and my whole world […]

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