Have an Old Fashioned Holiday

Each year, my mom challenges me to create a signature cocktail for our family Christmas Eve gathering. Past offerings have included a lemon-gingery Manhattan, a cranberry margarita, and a festive punch. Generally, I’m left to my own devices to concoct a recipe. But this year, she specifically requested a holiday spin on an Old Fashioned.

This was surprising to me, as she historically hasn’t enjoyed drinks with a strong liquor flavor. But she had tried some version of an Old Fashioned at Timberline Lodge (I’m envisioning a LOT of maraschino cherry muddling was involved) and she loved it. I remained skeptical, but rarely flat out reject a request from my mom. Plus, an Old Fashioned may just be my favorite cocktail, so I was stoked to start experimenting.

After some trial and error (and the loss of one sauce pan when I forgot I was supposed to be closely monitoring a simple syrup reduction on the stove), I landed on a solid recipe. I highly recommend giving it a try, and strongly suggest not relegating this delicious drink to a short (unless you’re going by retail/Starbucks timelines) season.


  • 1/4 oz cranberry/orange simple syrup
  • 3 1/2 oz Elijah Craig small batch bourbon (or your fave Kentucky bourbon)
  • 2-3 healthy dashes of angostura bitters
  • Candied ginger orange peel
  • Ginger beer (only if it turns out your mom doesn’t, as anticipated, actually like Old Fashioneds…)*

Here’s how you do it:

  • In a mixing beaker filled with ice, add simple syrup, bitters and bourbon
  • Stir briskly for 30 seconds
  • Strain into an old fashioned glass over a trendy-yet-effective ice sphere
  • Garnish with candied ginger orange peel
  • Drink
  • Repeat
  • Repeat
  • Repeat

* Recipe modification: tone down the cocktail by topping it with a few ounces of (festive!) ginger beer.

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