Brown Sugar Old Fashioned

Brown Sugar Old Fashioned: A Classic Cocktail

The Brown Sugar Old Fashioned is a popular variation of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, which has been a favorite among connoisseurs for centuries. This enticing beverage adds a delightful twist to the traditional recipe by incorporating brown sugar, providing a richer and more complex flavor profile. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the origins of the Brown Sugar Old Fashioned, its ingredients and preparation, and some delicious variations to try.


The Brown Sugar Old Fashioned takes the timeless essence of the original Old Fashioned and elevates it with the addition of brown sugar as a sweetener. This simple alteration not only adds a new depth of flavor but also makes the cocktail more accessible to those who may find the traditional Old Fashioned too strong or bitter. This blend of classic and contemporary elements makes the Brown Sugar Old Fashioned a perfect choice for any occasion, from casual gatherings to sophisticated soirees.

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History of the Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest and most revered cocktails in history. Its origins date back to the early 19th century, when it was simply known as the Whiskey Cocktail. The original recipe called for a combination of whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters – the essential components of any classic cocktail at the time.

Over the years, bartenders began to experiment with different ingredients and techniques, leading to the creation of countless new cocktails. However, purists still craved the simplicity and elegance of the original Whiskey Cocktail, and they began to order it the “old-fashioned” way. Thus, the Old Fashioned was born.

Ingredients and Tools

To make a Brown Sugar Old Fashioned, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Bourbon or rye whiskey
  • Brown sugar
  • Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Maraschino cherry (optional)
  • Ice

In addition to the ingredients, the following tools are recommended for preparing this cocktail:

Classic Brown Sugar Old Fashioned Recipe

Follow these steps to create the perfect Brown Sugar Old Fashioned:

  1. Muddle the brown sugar and bitters: Place a brown sugar cube or 1/2 teaspoon of loose brown sugar in the bottom of the mixing glass. Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of water. Use the muddler to crush the sugar and combine it with the bitters until a paste forms.
  2. Add the whiskey: Measure out 2 ounces of bourbon or rye whiskey using a jigger or measuring cup, and pour it into the mixing glass.
  3. Stir to combine: Use a bar spoon to stir the mixture well, ensuring that the brown sugar is fully dissolved.
  4. Prepare the glass: Fill an Old Fashioned glass or rocks glass with ice, preferably large cubes or a single large sphere for slower melting.
  5. Strain and pour: Place a strainer over the mixing glass and carefully pour the mixture over the ice in the prepared glass.
  6. Garnish: Express an orange peel over the glass by holding it over the drink and giving it a good twist to release its oils. Optionally, you can run the peel around the rim of the glass for added aroma. Drop the peel into the drink, and add a maraschino cherry if desired.

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Variations and Additions

While the classic Brown Sugar Old Fashioned is a delicious cocktail on its own, there are countless variations and additions you can experiment with to create your own unique version. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Maple Brown Sugar Old Fashioned: Replace the brown sugar with maple syrup for a warm, autumnal twist.
  2. Spiced Brown Sugar Old Fashioned: Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to the brown sugar and bitters mixture for a touch of spice.
  3. Smoked Brown Sugar Old Fashioned: Smoke the glass with a smoking gun or a lit cinnamon stick before adding the ice and cocktail mixture for an added layer of depth and complexity.
  4. Fruit-infused Brown Sugar Old Fashioned: Muddle seasonal fruits, such as berries or stone fruits, with the brown sugar and bitters for a burst of fresh flavor.

Pairing Suggestions

Due to its rich and complex flavors, the Brown Sugar Old Fashioned pairs well with a variety of foods. Here are some suggestions for dishes that complement this cocktail:

  1. Charcuterie and cheese boards: The combination of salty, fatty meats and cheeses with the sweetness of the Brown Sugar Old Fashioned creates a delightful contrast.
  2. Grilled or smoked meats: The bold flavors of the cocktail stand up well to the robust taste of grilled or smoked meats, such as steak, pork, or chicken.
  3. Barbecue dishes: The sweetness of the brown sugar in the cocktail complements the tangy and smoky flavors of barbecue sauces and marinades.
  4. Chocolate desserts: The rich, velvety taste of chocolate pairs beautifully with the depth and warmth of the Brown Sugar Old Fashioned.

Serving Tips

The Brown Sugar Old Fashioned is best enjoyed slowly, allowing the flavors to develop and meld together as the ice melts. Serve it in a sturdy Old Fashioned glass or rocks glass with plenty of ice to keep it chilled. For an elevated presentation, consider using large ice cubes or spheres, which melt more slowly and help maintain the integrity of the cocktail.

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FAQs about Brown Sugar Old Fashioned

Q: Can I use a different type of whiskey in my Brown Sugar Old Fashioned?

A: Absolutely! While bourbon and rye whiskey are the most common choices, feel free to experiment with other types of whiskey, such as Irish or Scotch, to create your own unique version.

Q: Can I make a Brown Sugar Old Fashioned without bitters?

A: While it is possible to make a Brown Sugar Old Fashioned without bitters, the bitters play a crucial role in balancing the sweetness of the sugar and enhancing the overall flavor profile of the cocktail. If you’re out of bitters, consider using a dash of citrus juice or a flavored syrup in its place.

Q: How should I store my Brown Sugar Old Fashioned if I want to make it ahead of time?

A: If you’re preparing a Brown Sugar Old Fashioned in advance, mix the brown sugar, bitters, and whiskey together and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, simply pour the mixture over ice and garnish as desired.


The Brown Sugar Old Fashioned is a sophisticated and versatile cocktail that offers a delightful twist on a classic favorite. Its rich, complex flavors make it an ideal choice for any occasion, and its versatility allows for endless experimentation and customization. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a beginner looking to expand your cocktail repertoire, the Brown Sugar Old Fashioned is a must-try.

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