In need of a stiff drink? This ginger old fashioned is here for you, babe. With homemade ginger syrup, bourbon, ginger bitters, and an orange twist, it’s a spicy, classic, and cozy cocktail for dinner parties, holidays, or quiet nights in.

Two ginger old fashioned cocktails on a beige counter next to a cocktail mixer, decanter of bourbon, crystalized ginger, and orange peels.

Hello, my name is Sara Lynn, and I am a young NYC man living in the year 1958 a 20-something woman who loves old fashioned cocktails. But you can call me Don Draper.

Today, I will be sharing my favorite old fashioned recipe because, well, it’s my birthday! And I will be celebrating with bourbon, Angostura bitters, and orange peel all night long if I have my way. Maybe I’ll try to slip in a sage greyhound cocktail or even an orange dirty Shirley if things get weird. But either way, tonight is for celebration and cake and drinks with my friends!

As a little birthday present to me, I hope you join me for one of these old fashioneds. They’re spicy, boozy, super cozy, and a lovely way to celebrate even if it’s just on the couch. Let’s make one!

A twist on the classic

My first old fashioned was served out of a Tigger mug at Christmastime while it snowed outside. I’ve come a long way since then, but if I’m being honest, I can’t say that scenario won’t recur. All I know is that I’ve been perfecting my old fashioned recipe for over 7 years and this version is one of my favorite variations!

  • This cocktail is super easy to make at home.
  • The ginger syrup is spicy and tastes amazing with bourbon!
  • This cocktail is lovely for a dinner party, holiday, or cozy night in.

You’ll need just 5 ingredients

A bottle of bourbon, bottle of ginger bitters, bottle of ginger syrup, white bowl of sugar, an orange, and ginger root on a wood table.
  • Ginger – you’ll need fresh ginger root to get the most flavor in the homemade syrup.
  • Sugar – regular white sugar works great in this recipe. It will help us create a thick, rich syrup.
  • Bourbon – use a good-quality bourbon because it is the main flavor component in this recipe. I like Frey Ranch!
  • Ginger bitters – you can find these at well-stocked liquor stores or online.
  • Orange – for a note of citrus! The orange twist is optional but tastes amazing with the ginger.

Or, try these variations

  • Whiskey – feel free to use rye whiskey if you prefer.
  • Bitters – orange bitters, or even just Angostura, will also work.
  • Twist – try a lemon twist instead of orange. (Or use both for rabbit ears!)
  • Ginger beer – I’ve had some readers ask if they can add ginger beer to this recipe. And the answer is sure! It won’t be an old fashioned per se. But if you want a fancy whiskey ginger, feel free to add some good-quality ginger beer. Or, go for this bourbon apple cider cocktail with ginger beer instead!

Let’s make a drink

Six steps to making ginger syrup. In photo 1, a silver pot has fresh ginger and sugar. In photo 2, the pot has water in it. In photo 3, the syrup is boiling. In photo 4, the syrup is steeping on a beige counter. In photo 5, the syrup is being strained into a white bowl. In photo 6, the syrup is in a white bowl on a beige counter.

Ginger syrup

  1. Start by combining the sugar, ginger, and water in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring the syrup to a boil, and simmer it for 1-2 minutes. Then, let it steep for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the solids. Let the syrup cool completely.
Three steps to making a ginger old fashioned. In photo 1, a hand uses a gold shot glass to pour ginger syrup in a cocktail mixer on a beige counter next to a glass and bowl of crystallized ginger. In photo 2, the shot glass pours bourbon in the glass. In photo 3, ginger bitters are being poured into the glass.

Old fashioned

  1. Once the syrup is chilled, add a bit to a cocktail mixing glass.
  2. Then, use a jigger to pour a shot of bourbon into the glass.
  3. Add a few generous dashes of ginger bitters.
Three steps to making a whiskey drink. In photo 1, a hand mixes whiskey and ice in a cocktail mixing glass on a tan counter next to a bottle of whiskey and a glass. In photo 2, the cocktail is being strained over an ice cube in a glass. In photo 3, the hand garnishes the cocktail with an orange peel.
  1. Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled, about 20 seconds.
  2. Strain the old fashioned over a large ice cube in a rocks glass.
  3. Lastly, express the oil of an orange twist over the cocktail. Garnish and enjoy!

How to use bitters

Make sure you’re using bitters properly! A ‘dash’ of bitters isn’t just a small drop. Give the bottle a good shake to get one full dash. Then, add more to taste!

Batching for a party

If you want to batch this cocktail for a crowd, it’s super easy! Just combine the ginger syrup, bourbon, and bitters in a large jar or pitcher. Stir, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

To serve, pour about 2 1/4 ounces of the old fashioned into a cocktail mixing glass. Fill with ice, stir, and strain over a large ice cube. Express an orange peel into the cocktail and enjoy.

Or, if you want to make it even easier, you can also try the freezer door old fashioned method!

For 8 servings

  • 2 ounces ginger syrup (60 milliliters)
  • 2 cups bourbon (480 milliliters)
  • 24 dashes of ginger bitters
  • 8 orange twists
Two ginger old fashioned cocktails on a beige counter next to a white bowl of crystallized ginger, decanter or bourbon, and cocktail mixing glass.

What is the best bourbon for an old fashioned?

This is a hot debate, but I’ll go ahead a list some of my go-tos! When in doubt, just use your favorite high-quality bourbon. Remember, this is a very liquor-forward drink, so you want a nice one. I like:

  • Frey Ranch
  • Four Roses
  • Buffalo Trace
  • Woodford Reserve
  • Knob Creek
  • Maker’s Mark
A ginger old fashioned on a tan marble counter next to a decanter of bourbon, cocktail mixing glass, crystallized ginger, and orange peels.

Garnishes

An orange twist or lemon twist is classic. But you can try any of these garnishes!

  • Orange and lemon twist (a.k.a. rabbit ears. So cute!)
  • Crystallized ginger
  • A boozy cherry

Old fashioned tips

  • Bitters are like salt and pepper meaning add them to taste. If you prefer less, use 2. If you like more, go for it!
  • Always stir, never shake, an old fashioned! Stirring will give the cocktail a nice, smooth texture.
  • Don’t over-stir the cocktail or it will get too watery. You want to mix the cocktail just until it’s chilled, about 20 seconds.
  • Pour the old fashioned over a large ice cube. You want the old fashioned to slowly dilute as you sip.
A whiskey cocktail on a tan marble counter next to a decanter of bourbon, mixing glass, and orange peels.

If you make this recipe, I would love it if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting Sunday Table!


5 from 2 votes

Ginger Old Fashioned

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
In need of a stiff drink? This ginger old fashioned is here for you, babe. With homemade ginger syrup, bourbon, ginger bitters, and an orange twist, it's a spicy, classic, and cozy cocktail for dinner parties, holidays, or quiet nights in.

Ingredients

Ginger Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
  • 1/2 cup water (118 milliliters)
  • 1/4 cup diced ginger (32 grams)

Ginger Old Fashioned

  • 1 large ice cube
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup (8 milliliters)
  • 2 ounces bourbon (60 milliliters)
  • 3 dashes ginger bitters
  • Orange and/or lemon peel, for garnish
  • Crystallized ginger, for garnish

Equipment

  • Jigger
  • Cocktail spoon
  • Mixing glass & strainer
  • Large ice cube mold
  • Rocks glass

Instructions 

Ginger Syrup

  • Add the sugar, ginger, and water to a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the syrup to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the syrup from the heat and let it steep for 10-30 minutes. Then, strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the leftover ginger. Let the syrup cool completely.

Ginger Old Fashioned

  • Place a large ice cube in a rocks glass (or a small water glass or a Tigger mug).
  • Add the ginger syrup, bourbon, and ginger bitters to a mixing glass. Add a handful of ice and stir the old fashioned until it's chilled, about 20 seconds.
  • Strain the old fashioned over the large ice cube. Express the oil of an orange and/or lemon peel over the glass. Garnish with an orange peel and crystallized ginger. Enjoy!

Notes

If you don’t have a cocktail spoon and mixing glass, no worries! You can always use a large jar and iced tea spoon instead.
If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, add more ginger syrup. Start with 1/2 ounce (16 milliliters) and add more to taste.
Make sure you’re using bitters properly! A ‘dash’ of bitters isn’t just a small drop. Give the bottle a good shake to get one full dash.
Bitters are like salt and pepper meaning add them to taste. If you prefer less, use 2. If you like more, go for it!
Always stir, never shake, an old fashioned! Stirring will give the cocktail a nice, smooth texture.
Don’t over-stir the cocktail or it will get too watery. You want to mix the cocktail just until it’s chilled, about 20 seconds.
Pour the old fashioned over a large ice cube. You want the old fashioned to slowly dilute as you sip.
Cuisine: American
Course: Drinks
Serving: 1cocktail, Calories: 160kcal, Carbohydrates: 7.7g, Sodium: 54mg, Potassium: 6mg, Sugar: 1.5g, Calcium: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @sundaytable.co on Instagram!

XO Sara Lynn

Song of the Day – Dreaming by Seapony

Originally posted July 25, 2016.