The Old Fashioned Manhattan. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

The Rye Old-Fashioned. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

My inclination is to simplify. And with this, one of the oldest and sturdiest of cocktails, the old fashioned, should be just that, as Brad Parsons notes in his excellent book Bitters, and in my original post on it. Sugar muddled with bitters, ice, American whiskey, and a twist. Brad laments that it’s too often gussied up and over-muddled with orange and overly adorned. Brad also notes a nostalgia for the gritty undissolved sugar, but nevertheless recommends simple syrup in his. I am like-minded on all counts.

Except. I splurged on these awesome cherries, “original” maraschinos. Also I really wanted to feature rye whiskey, here Bulleit rye, a whiskey on the upswing in America. And this great, great cocktail, the old fashioned, is perfectly suited to it. I’m doing what Brad suggests, only I’m adding a twist of orange because orange is a great seasoning, and the sweetness of the cherry with the dryness of the rye is fun. This is one of those perfect cocktails, like the Manhattan, that balances sweetness, with bitter, with citrus and, no measuring this time for god’s sake, add ice and fill the glass with whiskey. Enjoy the gritty sugar finale. Preferably mix two, to share with a dear old friend by a fire on a cold Friday eve.

The Old Fashioned Manhattan.

Making a Rye Old-Fashioned


Rye Old-Fashioned

  • 5 grams bitters (about)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (about)
  • Squeeze of orange, optional
  • Bulleit Rye, as needed
  • Lemon twist
  • One good cherry
  1. In an old-fashioned glass muddle the bitters, sugar, and a squeeze of orange, if using. Get the sugar dissolved (or use 2 teaspoons simple syrup).
  2. Fill the glass with ice, fill the glass with rye, garnish with a lemon twist and a good cherry.


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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.