The Whiskey Network Old Fashioned

March 2021

Where the love of mixology and good music combine

The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest cocktails in existence.  Its earliest incarnations date all the way back to the early 19th century as a simple combination of various spirits, bitters, water, and sugar.  As cocktails became more complex, the first Old Fashioned cocktail was “officially” established; harkening for the nostalgia of a simpler drink.  The main spirit was firmly established as whiskey; whether bourbon, rye, or a combination of the two.  Even if you’re a neat whiskey purist, you most likely will make an exception for a well-made Old Fashioned.  Whiskey Network co-founder, Bill Varnell, graciously provided his riff on the classic formula, and it is indeed a stunner.     


The Whiskey Network Old Fashioned



1 1/2 oz Old Forester 1920 Bourbon

1/2 oz Gala Orange Liqueur

1/2 oz Agave

1 tsp Bada Bing Cherry Syrup (or Luxardo)

2 dashes Fee Bros Black Walnut bitters




In a shaker, combine all ingredients. Add ice. Shake for approximately 30 seconds. Pour ice and cocktail into a large rocks glass.


Garnish:  Large Orange Peel


My Take:


As with a Sazerac, the base spirit must be of high quality. The use of Old Forester 1920 is an excellent choice.  It's 115 proof of Straight Kentucky Bourbon which provides the proper foundation to build upon. The use of Gala, an Italian orange liqueur in the same vein as Grand Marnier, is a neat twist and removes the need to muddle an orange peel, while providing significantly more flavor. Agave syrup matches perfectly with the first two components and does not overwhelm the drink, while the use of cherry syrup brightens up the entire combination. Last, but certainly not least, are the black walnut bitters that absolutely make this Old Fashioned an essential drink in your rotation.    


Music Pairing:


The Black Crowes “Hard to Handle” Shake Your Money Maker (Def American)


While I love Otis Redding’s original rendition of “Hard to Handle”, The Black Crowes killed it here. Just an amazing performance, and it’s homage to a past legend marries perfectly with the meaning of the Old Fashioned cocktail.