Keep it Simple with Bottled Old Fashioneds - Imbibe
by Emma Janzen - November 18, 2021
Three simple ingredients—whiskey, sugar, and bitters—define the Old Fashioned, one of the world’s most beloved classic cocktails. That simplicity makes the cocktail an especially good candidate for bottling. Which is why a growing cadre of spirits companies (and bartenders) are getting into the bottled Old Fashioned game, releasing their own ready-to-drink renditions for imbibers to enjoy at home. From a coffee-spiked twist and an apple brandy-fueled version to ones infused with saffron or walnut liqueur, here are some standouts.
BULLY BOY DISTILLERS OLD FASHIONEDThe Boston-based distillery was ahead of the curve when they debuted their flagship bottled cocktail in 2015. They aimed to stay true to the original mix of whiskey, sugar, and bitters in this straightforward interpretation of the classic, while leaning on the rich spice of aromatic bitters.
DASHFIRE While Dashfire’s array of canned and bottled cocktails features small and delicious spins on classics (they also have a Fig & Cascara Manhattan, Pomegranate El Presidente, and Chai White Russian), the Minnesota-based distillery kept the Old Fashioned as close to traditional as possible, with only slight tweaks to enhance the cocktail’s best qualities. Made with natural sugar cane juice, a blend of four bitters, and hints of cherry, vanilla, and chicory, the bourbon-forward sipper offers a bold flavor and body. We recommend sipping it with two ice cubes to help mellow it out.
LAIRD’S APPLE BRANDY OLD FASHIONEDThe Laird’s company has been making applejack and apple brandy since the late 1700s, but its newest product is proof that the storied distillery keeps keeping up with the times. This bottled Old Fashioned is, of course, made with Laird’s apple brandy. Created by bartending industry vets Chad Solomon and Christie Pope, the recipe lets the flavors of the apple brandy take center stage, supported by a bouquet of spice from the bitters.
LA PERLA WALNUT OLD FASHIONEDThe Don Ciccio & Figli company in Washington, D.C., is known primarily for its celebration of Italian liqueurs, so for their twist on a bottled Old Fashioned, the addition of nocino comes into play. The deeply nutty qualities of the liqueur shine, with just enough whiskey in the mix to remind you that the drink is, indeed, an Old Fashioned. Think flavors of warm, sweet baked pie, vanilla, orange, and cinnamon spice.
SLOW & LOW COFFEE OLD-FASHIONEDFrom Cooper Spirits, the same team that brought you Rock and Rye, the recipe for the Slow & Low Coffee Old Fashioned—made with rye whiskey, coffee from Intelligentsia, raw honey, Demerara syrup, Angostura bitters, and orange peel—was inspired by the classic Café Brûlot. The star of the show is the coffee blend, a mix from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Peru, which sings with roasted flavors when the cocktail is chilled over ice.
SUNDAY’S FINEST GOLD FASHIONEDLong-time bartender Robert Haynes (Apologue Liqueurs and formerly of The Violet Hour) devised this bottled Old Fashioned with luxury in mind. Made with Demerara sugar, the recipe is upgraded with a soft layer of saffron bitters, which feature vanilla, cacao, gentian, and saffron. The cocktail gains layers of depth and complexity from a blend of 8- and 5-year-old whiskies—a Kentucky bourbon and an Indiana rye—which merge to create a complex blend of spice, oak, and vanilla. The result is a bar-quality Old Fashioned that’s ideal for special occasions or gifting.
STRAIGHTAWAY OREGON OLD FASHIONEDMade with a Pacific Northwest sensibility in mind, the Oregon Old Fashioned combines rye whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters. The flagship bottled Old Fashioned offers a subtle simplicity for weeknight drinking, but the limited-edition maple-spiked version is also worth trying—the syrup marries perfectly with bourbon and apple-caraway bitters.
LIVEWIRE ALLEY CAT OLD FASHIONEDA collaboration between LiveWire founder (and L.A. bartender) Aaron Polsky and industry pro Chris Patino, this take on the classic cocktail is a blend of straight rye whiskey and aged apple brandy. Imbibe senior editor Penelope Bass enjoyed it so much that she made it a Drink of the Week when it first released, saying “the spiciness of the former nicely complementing the subtly sweet fruit notes of the latter. Balanced with cherry bark and vanilla bitters from Bittercube, the result is a bar-quality drink that requires nothing more than the willingness to pour over ice and enjoy—brilliant.”