Love an old fashioned? These variations are perfect for spooky season

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The idea to put whiskey, sugar, and bitters together was probably one of the earliest ways to enjoy whiskey, dating back to the late 1880s.

Some people say that it used to just be called the “whiskey cocktail” and that once the Manhattan (or another cocktail, depending on who you ask) came along that shifted to an “old fashioned whiskey cocktail” and later just an Old Fashioned. In parts of the Midwest an Old Fashioned is made with brandy, and if you’ve never tried the brandy variation (see below) it’s well worth your time.

The great thing about the Old Fashioned is that you can switch it up easily using different kinds of syrups or bitters, so have fun with it, and of course it doesn’t have to be consumed only one week of the year (though please contribute what you can to the cause if you have the means), or even just in autumn.

To get the recipe for the Elijah Craig Old Fashioned, and discover other fall charity cocktails, please click here.


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Here are some fall-inspired Old Fashioned recipes to inspire your home mixology hobby (and don’t forget to freeze some large format ice cubes for them!). Cheers!

Image Credit: Lady_barnett/iStock.

Pumpkin Cashmere Old Fashioned

Recipe by Dammara Kovnats Hall, Founder & CEO of Jewish Cocktails

  • 2 oz. / 60ml Jim Beam Single Barrel (Double Gold, 2020 New York International Spirits Competition)

  • 1 oz./ 30 ml Pumpkin spiced simple syrup (recipe follows)

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

  • 1 dash orange bitters

  • 1 large ice cube

  • Garnish: Cinnamon stick and orange twist

  • Stir all of the ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over 1 large ice cube. Express the orange twist over the drink, then gently rub the rim of the glass with the twist and place it into the drink. Add a cinnamon stick for an additional garnish.

Pumpkin spiced simple syrup

  • ½ C. / 113.4g cup water

  • ⅓ C. / 75.6g brown sugar

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 2 cloves

  • 2 pieces of freshly cut ginger

  • 1 nutmeg kernel cut in half (or you can use 1/2 teaspoon / 2 ¼ g powdered)

  • ⅓ C. / 75.6g cup pumpkin purée

In a small pot, combine water, brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add cinnamon sticks, cloves,bginger, nutmeg and pumpkin purée. Whisk all ingredients together and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the mixture and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Related Slideshow: This 1730 restaurant is the oldest in the US

Image Credit: photo courtesy Dammara Kovnats Hall.

S’mores Old Fashioned

Recipe by Heather Wibbels, Bourbon Women board member and The Cocktail Contessa

  • 1 ¾ oz / 52.5ml Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 year (Double Gold 2020 NYISC)

  • ¼ oz. / 7.5ml Ballotin chocolate whiskey

  • ½ oz./ 15 ml toasted marshmallow syrup (homemade or store-bought, recipe follows for homemade)

  • 16 drops Bittermen’s Xocolotl Mole chocolate bitters

  • 1 barspoon peated whiskey or mezcal

  • Garnish: torched marshmallow or s’more, or be extra and make a melted chocolate and graham cracker crust rim

Combine bourbon, chocolate whiskey, toasted marshmallow syrup and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with one large cube. Garnish with a torched marshmallow or a full-on s’more.

Toasted Marshmallow Syrup


Both Torani and Monin make this toasted marshmallow syrup to be used for coffee, cocktails, hot chocolate, desserts, etc.

Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Add 12 toasted marshmallows (toasted only, not completely charred). Heat until the marshmallows are melted, and all the sugar is dissolved. It will still look foamy and creamy from the marshmallows but should be fully liquid. Let cool fully. Strain through a metal sieve to catch the charred bits and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You may need to strain off the foam at the top of the syrup, it will make your cocktail cloudy. Or you could just serve it in a mug.

Image Credit: Cocktail Contessa.

Old John Chapman


Recipe by Brian Petro, Smart Guy In A Tie

  • 1 oz./ 30 ml brandy

  • 1 oz./ 30 ml apple brandy

  • ½ oz./ 15 ml cinnamon brown sugar simple syrup (recipe follows)

  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

  • Glass: Old Fashioned

  • Ice:  Large cube (or sphere)

  • Garnish: Orange peel

Pour all of the ingredients over the ice ball in the Old Fashioned glass. Stir well until the glass is chilled and the ingredients are incorporated. Peel the orange, express it over the cocktail, then garnish and serve!

Says Petro: “Once I saw that brandy was on the table, I knew that was the direction I was heading. While whiskey was popular in the 19th century, brandy still had the hearts and minds of many people in the country. The cinnamon syrup was already made, and I will use any excuse I can get to play with brandy of all stripes. Splitting the brandy between apple and standard was my big jump, but there was some precedent. Does this make it “enhanced?” Maybe. But no one is losing any of the brandy goodness in this cocktail.

While lemon is traditional for a garnish, orange has just as much cache with the Old Fashioned. And it paired better with the apple and the cinnamon.

Brown sugar cinnamon simple syrup

  • .5 c./ 120 ml light brown sugar

  • .5 c./ 120 ml water

  • 3 3″/ 7.5 cm cinnamon sticks

First, put the cinnamon sticks in a small pot over medium heat. Heat the sticks until they are fragrant. Stir together the brown sugar and water until the sugar is incorporated. Then add the cinnamon stick and bring close to a boil. Once the water comes close to boiling, reduce the heat, and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the cinnamon and cool.


Image Credit: Brian Petro/iStock.

Gold Fashioned

Recipe by Denise Petty, Tasting Room Manager, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.

  • 1½ oz. / 45ml Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Cask Proof

  • ¾ oz. / 22.5ml saffron simple syrup (2:2 sugar:water, pinch saffron)

  • 3 drops of Liquid Gold bitters

  • Garnish: orange twist

Build in a rocks glass with ice and stir. Add orange twist for garnish.

Image Credit: MaximFesenko / iStock.

Smoked Old Fashioned

Recipe by Lauren Strasser, assistant general manager, Bouquet Restaurant

  • 2 oz. / 60ml Elijah Craig small batch (Double Gold 2020 NYISC)

  • .5 oz./ 15 ml smoked simple syrup (recipe follows, or use regular simple syrup)

  • 2-3 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

  • Sorghum syrup

  • Bourbon Barrel Foods Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt

  • Garnish: flamed orange peel

Start by lining an Old Fashioned glass with sorghum on 1/3 of the inside rim and sprinkle Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt on the sorghum. Place a large ice cube in the glass then add bourbon, simple syrup and bitters to the glass. Stir with a bar spoon or chopstick. Top with a torched orange rind.

Smoked simple syrup: Heat a smoker grill to 180º. Pour 2 cups granulated sugar and 2 cups water into a 13×9 pan and stir. Smoke for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Let cool, then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Image Credit: Courtesy Bouquet Restaurant.

Smoked Tea Old Fashioned

Recipe by Tory Pratt, founder of Pratt Standard Cocktail Co.

  • 2 ¼ oz. / 67.5ml Uncle Nearest 1820 whiskey (Double Gold 2020 NYISC)

  • ½ oz./ 15 ml Pratt Standard Cocktail Co. Earl Grey Vanilla Syrup

  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters

  • Cinnamon stick

  • Add bitters and syrup to the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass and swirl to combine. Pack the glass with ice and pour whiskey over ice. Stir gently around the inside of the glass, making little to no noise, for 15-20 turns of the barspoon. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Image Credit: Pratt Standard Cocktail Co..

Bees In The Trees

Recipe by Brandon “Habi” Habenstein, Beverage Director of The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company

  • 2 oz. / 60ml bourbon (Habenstein used Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 whiskey)

  • ½ oz./ 15 ml Apple Honey Syrup (recipe follows)

  • 3 dashes Hella Cocktail Co. Apple Blossom Bitters

  • Garnish: lemon Peel / cracked black pepper

Stir all ingredients except garnish in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass, garnish with lemon peel and a bit of black pepper.

Apple Honey Syrup

200g roughly chopped apples

100g white sugar

Combine apples and sugar in a bowl. Cover. Allow to rest 12-24 hours. Strain syrup from solids.

Next, make a honey syrup by combining equal parts honey and water.

Combine 2 parts of the syrup from the apples with the honey syrup. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (add to tea, other cocktails, as dessert topping, etc.).

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