14 Cocktails To Try If You Like Drinking An Old Fashioned

While many of us may stop by our favorite bar or restaurant for our favorite inventive or creative cocktail, there are a few undeniable classics that have withstood the test of time and are here to stay. One of those classic timeless cocktails is surely the old fashioned. This cocktail, made of muddled sugar with bitters, water, whiskey, and garnished with an orange peel or cocktail cherry, has been around since the 1880s, according to Difford's Guide.

But as much as many may love the old fashioned and think it deserves a permanent place on any quality bar menu, there are times people need a change. It's good to branch out on occasion, after all. So, if someone who appreciates a classic craft whiskey cocktail wants to try something new, what should they try? Likely, it's another classic craft cocktail with similar flavor profiles. There are actually quite a few incredible drink options that may be just perfect for fans of the old fashioned! Here are 14 cocktails to try if you're a fan of the classic old fashioned cocktail.


Anthony Frederick, bar director at Loews New Orleans, recommends trying a classic Sazerac if you love an old fashioned. People who like old fashioned cocktails may like trying a drink like the Sazerac because, stylistically speaking, they have a lot in common. 

"The Sazerac is a straightforward cocktail, much like a classic old fashioned. It's whiskey-based and uses similar ingredients like the sugar cube and bitters, but is made more complex with the addition of the herbsaint or absinthe," Frederick told Tasting Table. A classic Sazerac, said Frederick, is made with whiskey, herbsaint (an anise-flavored liquer) or absinthe, a sugar cube, Peychayd's bitters, and a lemon peel for garnish.

Why is it such a great alternative? The old fashioned, while an excellent cocktail, has so many variations these days that it's hard to find a well-made, classic version. A Sazerac simplifies things in the best way. "The Sazerac is a great option for whiskey lovers looking for a clean, simple cocktail reminiscent of an old fashioned, but that remains true to the classic recipe," said Frederick.

Whiskey sour

This cocktail is a touch controversial in that it gets a bad rap because of its frequent use of pre-made sweet & sour mixes in most bars and restaurants. But the original form is a lot more elegant.

 "The best way to enjoy a homemade whiskey sour is to ice up and shake 2 ounces of your favorite bourbon with 1 ounce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1 ounce of simple syrup," Patrick Kirk, Vice President of Beverage Innovation at Applebee's, told Tasting Table. Bonus points if you add a few dashes of bitters to complicate the flavor profile. Garnish with a cherry or two for looks; plus, it's an absolute treat to eat the booze-soaked cherry at the end.

A classic whiskey sour has broad appeal, sure to please any whiskey lover and hits the spot as a summertime drink. For those who are intimidated by whiskey, this is a far more approachable cocktail compared to the more alcohol-forward Manhattan or old fashioned. "It's a great entry point into the wonderful world of whiskey and bourbon cocktails," said Kirk. Most notably, it is very easy to make and especially in larger quantities if you aim to please the crowd at a backyard barbecue. "If you prefer to stretch the drink for prolonged sipping (or hold off inebriation), fill the drink with sparkling water, and voilà, you just made yourself a John Collins!" said Kirk.

Vieux Carre

There are few more creative and exciting cities than New Orleans, and this is a cocktail that is very familiar to the New Orleans scene. The Vieux Carre cocktail combines the spirit-forward nature of an old fashioned with a few fun French-inspired twists. This cocktail is made up of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, cognac, Benedictine liquer, and a mix of Angostura and Peychaud's Bitters.

This cocktail is a little more under the radar and encompasses the sipping, medicinal, rich style of drink that you get from a classic old fashioned. "A close relative of the Manhattan, it also has that rich flavor and texture you crave with an old fashioned with a deeper, woodier complexity and a silkier, fuller mouthfeel," Jason Kraft, Beverage Director of Roberta's, told Tasting Table. 

According to Kraft, this drink is "still is hands down one of my favorite drinks of all time." It's easy to see why.

Hanky Panky

While the spirits are totally different than in a classic old fashioned, there's still a lot about it that an old fashioned lover would appreciate. "It's still a bold, spirit-forward cocktail that highlights the complexity of the three spirits used in the drink," Jenn Beard of Cocktails Away told Tasting Table. This well-balanced stirred drink is made with London dry gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet Branca bitters.

It's a lesser-known drink but when made well is such an enjoyable sipper. "I think there are many great old fashioned riffs, but the flavors in a Hanky Panky work so well together that anyone I make one for likes it just as much, even if they wouldn't say they're a big gin fan," Said Beard. Not only is it a nice way to experience new spirits, but it was also invented by a female bartender at the Savoy in the early 1900s, according to VinePair. That alone makes it special. "That was certainly not the norm in the early bar scene!" said Beard.


Drinks don't much more elegant than the Boulevardier. It even feels elegant to say the name! "As an old fashioned fan, I often find myself looking for something else that treats me to the same deep sensory richness as a classically made old fashioned," Derek Captain, General Manager at Charlie Park, told Tasting Table.

One of Captain's favorite alternatives to the old fashioned is a Boulevardier, which in its essence is a whiskey-based Negroni. "I find that Cappelletti (which is a wine-based aperitif) works better in this cocktail as opposed to the traditional Campari, and as long as you have some quality sweet vermouth and bitters, this drink is a quick and easy alternative to the old fashioned," said Captain.

This is one cocktail that goes down easy but will pack a punch, thanks to the whiskey and other liquors involved. Be sure to pace yourself throughout the evening and take your time enjoying this cocktail.

Monte Carlo

Anthony Partridge, the lead barman at The Laundry Room, recommends the Monte Carlo cocktail for anyone who also leans towards an old fashioned. The Monte Carlo is a classic cocktail dating at least as far back as 1948, according to Difford's Guide.

"Similarly to an old fashioned, a Monte Carlo still utilizes the rye base, but instead of the sugar cube for a sweetening component, Benedictine [liquer] is substituted," Partridge told Tasting Table. Benedictine is a French liqueur made with more than 27 plants and spices that is aged for up to 17 months before bottling. The basic recipe for a Monte Carlo would be 2 ¼ ounces rye, ½ ounce Benedictine liquer and 3-5 dashes of Angostura bitters. It can also be garnished with a lemon or orange peel.

"The Monte Carlo is a great alternative to an old fashioned because you get to keep the base and the bittering agent, but substitute in a new/different sweetening component. It helps to understand the varying parts as the taste of the cocktail, and the Benedictine can deliver a warmer, subtle, dark cocoa quality of flavor that a plain sugar cube just won't," said Partridge.

Smoking Jacket

"People who like an old fashioned would like this cocktail because it has it has added levels of flavor due to the richness of the burnt sugar syrup and the smoked ice cube, similar to an old fashioned," Jamie Sanford, head bartender at Taverne in the Sky, told Tasting Table.

The great thing about the old fashioned is that it can be prepared differently based on where you live and the local ingredients available. "It is especially true in Wisconsin as the state has a culture built around this drink," said Sanford. The Smoking Jacket is a great alternative because the burnt sugar gives an added level of flavor and complexity to the finished cocktail. So, what's in it exactly? According to Sanford, the drink includes Woodford bourbon, burnt sugar syrup, Trinity bitters, a smoked ice cube, and fresh lemon zest. "The taste of the Trinity bitters is a lighter flavor than angostura, giving the remainder of the ingredients the opportunity to shine," said Sanford.


This drink contains similar components to an old fashioned, as Mike Reisman, a Philadelphia-based mixologist, told Tasting Table. These are whiskey, bitters, a sweetener, and water — but with a different balance. "I think that while they may not be sisters, they're certainly close enough cousins that it's a pretty smooth transition from one to the other," said Reisman.

The key elevating player here is sweet vermouth. Vermouth can be a somewhat misunderstood ingredient amongst even experienced mixologists. "It has garnered a reputation as that thing that's been half empty in your parents' dusty liquor cabinet for years," said Reisman. "I think that's largely so because of what was once a lack of availability of quality vermouths which, while there's still tons of room for growth, is thankfully no longer the case." 

Now that we know there's quality vermouth out there, we know that it lends itself to a nice, spicy rye whiskey. "The sum of these parts, plus the aforementioned bitters and water, is an entire tapestry full of piquant herbs and fruity depth," said Reisman. "It mellows the harsher characteristics of the base spirit and rounds out the bottom end like turning up the bass on your car stereo."

It's a different balance of mostly familiar flavors which any old fashioned drinker can easily graduate to and broaden the range of their bar order. And while we're at it, since we're using good vermouth now, use some high quality cherries too!


As with the Manhattan, the Negroni is technically not in the old fashioned family of cocktails. However, it does feel, in many ways, like one of the best next logical steps for an old fashioned fan. If you're already an old fashioned drinker, we can surmise that you like it boozy. "You love offering your palate a little bit of a challenge," said Reisman. "You want to drink your liquor, and you want to know you're drinking it. In short, you're my people!"

If this describes you, consider the Negroni. It was "born out of the desire to crank up the [alcohol by volume] of an old Italian Aperitivo cocktail called an Americano," said Reisman. It was born when "a man whose identity is a matter of some debate asked his bartender to get rid of the club soda and replace it with gin." 

The result is a deeply bitter, but infinitely invigorating cocktail. A well-made Negroni is sharp and refreshing with sweet citrus notes that dive into an intensity that's rivaled by few other cocktails. Essentially, it wakes up your entire mouth. "To say that it's spirit-forward feels like a little bit of an understatement, but when prepared by a practiced hand, it's a balancing act of heavy hitters like Mike Tyson on a highwire," said Reisman. If you can embrace the challenge, you'll find there are few drinks that scratch that particular itch in quite the same way.

Mint julep

When you look closely, you'll soon realize that the mint julep is a close relative to the old fashioned. At its core, its components are largely identical with just a couple of particularly important tweaks. "For one thing, a mint julep doesn't traditionally involve one of the four great pillars of the old fashioned pantheon: bitters," said Reisman. Most notable is the namesake mint, which adds a nice, cool freshness. If you've ever been to Kentucky in the steamy summer, you know why you need all the cooling freshness you can get while you're there.

But there's another layer to what makes a mint julep a mint julep: how it's prepared and served. "The generally ornate metal cup has a much lower thermal mass than glass. In other words, especially when combined with the traditional tightly packed iceberg formed out of crushed ice, the cup not only makes more contact with the ice, but it gets much colder and stays that way much longer," said Reisman. "I love an old fashioned any time of year, but especially on those muggy, oppressive mid-late summer days, I'll take a julep, please."

If you prefer something slightly lighter than many other cocktails, a mint julep will just about always do the trick. "This thirst-quenching cocktail pairs fresh mint perfectly with the toasted nut flavors of bourbon," said Nick Ansara, Beverage Operations Manager at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. Enjoyed on a sunny patio, juleps can be a wonderful alternative to an old fashioned.

Ti Punch

The beauty of an old fashioned is that it represents a certain kind of cocktail zen. "We're not drowning our base spirit in tons of sugar, juice, dairy, or even (gasp!) pre-bottled sour mix," said Reisman. Rather, when you're drinking a bourbon old fashioned, you're essentially just drinking whiskey. That whiskey has been seasoned only slightly with sugar and bitters. Other cultures also have a similar concept, few made quite as well as the drink made by the people of Martinique. Enter the Ti Punch.

"In the Caribbean, they don't grow much in the way of corn or rye, but due to a long history of slavery and colonization, sugar cane abounds," said Reisman. With sugar cane and tropical climates, of course, comes rum. "For the unacquainted, Rhum Agricole has a very specific funky finish, often described as "grassy" and it lends itself brilliantly to this fantastically minimalist preparation." There's nothing in this cocktail but rum, sugar, and lime. "[T]he reason we're squarely in old fashioned territory here is the balance," said Reisman.

Whereas a daiquiri props up the rum of choice against a relatively much larger proportion of sugar and lime juice, a Ti Punch is very much an old fashioned variation. "It's just enough sugar to round out the rum, and just enough lime to brighten it a hair and enhance some of those great, grassy notes," said Reisman.

American Trilogy

Is there any flavor more classically American than the apple? What about apple liquor? "Applejack is a spirit distilled from apples and then aged in barrels in a similar manner to whiskey or brandy," said Reisman. In fact, it is essentially a brandy. It's not sweet. In fact, according to Reisman, "It sips very much like a whiskey, if you can imagine a whiskey that's made from apples instead of grains."

Most notably, New Jersey's own Laird's has been making the stuff since the 1700s. "One of my go-to old fashioned riffs — The American Trilogy– is a split of two base spirits which complement each other brilliantly: applejack and rye whiskey," said Reisman. "The applejack provides an autumnal depth which combines a distinctly apple-rich foundation (duh) with some more complex, oak and vanilla, and the rye gives a great, spice-forward backbone. Throw in a little sugar and bitters [...] and you have yours and your family's new favorite Thanksgiving-time old fashioned."


Brooklyn may have a reputation for being a region that is both edgy and trendy but also classic. The same can be said for a certain namesake cocktail.

Kaitlin Ryan, head bartender at The Vault Garden, loves the Brooklyn cocktail as it represents a fun and complex riff on the old fashioned. "An old fashioned by definition is a four-component cocktail to include spirit, sugar, bitters, and water. A Brooklyn is more or less a variation on this idea as it's comprised of whiskey, Amer Picon (the bitter component), Maraschino liqueur (the sweet component), and dry (or blanc) vermouth," Ryan told Tasting Table.

It's a contemporary re-imagination of the classic with a whole lot of modern edge, which is a lot like what is said of the New York City borough of Brooklyn itself. "It encompasses all of the same basic spirit-driven elements but with a lot more seasonal complexity," said Ryan.

Porch Rocker

What's better than relaxing on a rocking chair with a great cocktail and checking out the view? To that end, there's the Porch Rocker, a cocktail that is all that and has the name to prove it. "A Porch Rocker cocktail can be made many different ways and is a very southern patio pounder type of classic cocktail," Frederick told Tasting Table.

According to Frederick, the Porch Rocker "can also be a bourbon-based cocktail with big bourbon flavor and a sweet finish." The variant that Frederick makes at the Loews New Orleans is called the Poydras Porch Rocker and has bourbon, lillet blanc, a blackberry rosemary peppercorn syrup, and lemon juice among the ingredients. "It's a lighter bourbon cocktail for sipping on the porch on a hot summer day," said Frederick. All told, it's a perfect riff on the old fashioned for a day out in the sun.