Scotch Old-Fashioned

Try the old-fashioned in a new way with a Scotch Old-Fashioned. With smoky Scotch whisky and orange bitters, this delicious take on the classic bourbon cocktail is a great way to get to know and enjoy Scotch.

A glass of a Scotch cocktail with ice and a spoon.

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Scotch Old-Fashioned recipe

Lovers of old-fashioned cocktails know that this strong cocktail already has a lot of depth and complexity. You can change out ingredients to yield different flavor profiles and aromas.

When this classic cocktail is made with Scotch whisky instead of the usual bourbon, you can experience the magic of this rich and smoky spirit.

Whether you’re already a whiskey enthusiast (à la Don Draper) or new to drinking Scotch, reimagine this timeless favorite and get to know this delicious spirit. If you’re not used to drinking straight whiskey, an old-fashioned is a great way to dip your toes in. 

If you are making drinks for friends or a dinner party, this spin on the old-fashioned will certainly intrigue the Scotch-curious.

More old-fashioned recipes: Oaxaca Old-FashionedMaple Old-FashionedCoffee Old-Fashioned

Two glasses of a Scotch Old-Fashioned cocktail with ice and an orange peel.

Why you’ll love this recipe

You are going to adore this Scotch old-fashioned recipe.

  • For those new to Scotch whisky, it is easier to drink in cocktail form when mixed with sweetness and bitters.
  • It’s a great way to enjoy Scotch whisky in a new way.
  • Scotch adds its smoky, peaty and nutty flavor to this usually bourbon cocktail.

Make this Scotch whisky old-fashioned in lieu of a regular old-fashioned anytime you want a more sophisticated cocktail. It is perfect for drinking at happy hour, sipping after dinner or kicking back on the weekend. 

Two glasses of Scotch old-fashioned with ice cubes in them.

What is an old-fashioned?

An Old-Fashioned is a classic cocktail known for its simplicity and timeless appeal. It is typically made with whiskey, often bourbon, although other variations can feature different types of such as rye whiskey/Canadian whisky, Irish whiskey, Scotch and Japanese whisky. You can also use non-whiskey spirits such as tequila, aged rum and mezcal. 

Old-fashioned cocktails are known for their spirit-forward nature, as most of the cocktail is the spirit, with just a few other flavors added. This allow the rich flavors of the chosen whiskey to shine through. Typically, these drinks don’t include any mixers like sour mix or soda, keeping the focus on the delightful complexity of the base spirit.

When crafting old-fashioneds, small but mighty flavor elements are added to complement the whiskey. Typically it includes a hint of bitter orange zest, a sweet cocktail cherry (but not a maraschino cherry) and a few dashes of fragrant bitters. To balance out the flavors and bring a touch of sweetness, a sugar cube or simple syrup comes into play.

While this classic drink traditionally features any type of whiskey, often bourbon, this version highlights the smooth, caramel, smoky flavors of Scotch. You can also use Irish whiskey to make an Irish old-fashioned.

An elegant gold spoon rests delicately on a polished marble table, exuding sophistication and grandeur.

Tools & glassware

It’s traditional to serve an old-fashioned cocktail in a type of glass with the same name: an old-fashioned glass which is also sometimes called a rocks glass.

These are short, glass tumblers. When you raise a short glass to your mouth, your nose is closer to the liquid, allowing you to breathe in the drink’s fragrance, enhancing each sip.

You’ll want to grab a jigger for measuring, plus a mixing glass and bar spoon to mix the drink, but you can also prepare it right in the glass. You might also want to create large clear ice cubes for each drink.

Ingredients

You only need a few simple ingredients to make this classic whiskey cocktail recipe. Here’s what to grab at the liquor store and supermarket:

  • Scotch whisky: Any Scotch whisky will work here — it really depends on your preference. Punch pulled together a list of the best Scotch for cocktails. They recommend Monkey Shoulder or Glenfiddich 12 if you’re new to Scotch.
  • Honey syrup: You can make your own honey syrup by mixing equal parts honey and warm water. Maple syrup or brown sugar simple syrup works too. 
  • Orange bitters: This orange-flavored type of bitters adds a subtle zing of citrus to this cocktail. You can also use Angostura bitters or the best bitters you have.
  • Orange zest: Grab a vegetable peeler to zest a fresh orange. Be sure to grab as little of the white pith as possible. You could also use a dehydrated orange slice.
  • Cocktail cherry: Make your own cocktail cherries or use a quality kind like a Luxardo cherry. Don’t use the bright red maraschino cherries.
  • Ice cube: A large ice cube works best for a strong drink like this because it melts slower and doesn’t dilute your drink as quickly as many small pieces of ice would.
Two glasses of an Old-Fashioned drink with ice and a spoon.

Substitutions & variations

You can try swapping out the ingredients for convenience or to make new flavors. That’s the fun of cocktail mixing!

  • Use any type of whiskey. Scotch is smoky and smooth, but you can switch it out for bourbon, rye, Japanese or Irish whiskies. 
  • Try a flavored simple syrup. Playing with flavors is always welcome in cocktail-making. Try fig syrup for a fruity twist or rosemary syrup for an herbal one.
  • Play with citrus. A piece of orange peel is used in the classic recipe but you can use grapefruit, lime or lemon zest to mix things up. Dehydrated citrus slices are a nice touch too.
  • Experiment with bitters. I used orange bitters in this drink. Aromatic bitters or cinnamon bitters would also be excellent here.

How to make a Scotch Old-Fashioned

You can make this Scotch old-fashioned recipe in a few simple steps:

A person pouring Scotch into a mixing glass.
A mixing glass of Scotch whiskey with a spoon in it.

In a mixing glass or right in your rocks glass, add honey syrup and tequila. Stir together with a bar spoon.

A person pouring Scotch into a glass of ice.

Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass. Pour the cocktail slightly to the side of the ice cube. (Or, if not using a mixing glass, carefully lower in a large ice cube or ice ball.)

Add a few dashes of orange bitters and garnish it with a piece of orange twist and a cocktail cherry.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Add a small amount of sweetener to start — you can always add a little more. You can also try different types of sweeteners like demerara syrup. 
  • Make a batch of large ice cubes or ice spheres the day before (or keep a stash in your freezer). The large surface area means it melts more slowly than a bunch of tiny ice cubes.
  • Use a mixing glass to combine the Scotch and syrup together. Then, slowly pour them just to the side of your ice cube in your glass to not melt the ice.
  • Before adding it to your drink, gently twist the orange garnish and rub it around the edge of the glass before dropping it in to release the orange oils into your drink.
Two glasses with ice and a spoon next to them, perfect for serving a refreshing Scotch Old-Fashioned cocktail.

What to serve with a Scotch Old-Fashioned

Scotch pairs well with cheese recipes, like spinach artichoke dip or marinated cheese.

It also pairs well with fruit and chocolate, like chocolate-covered strawberries or whiskey balls. Keep in mind that anything too citrusy can overpower the notes in Scotch.

You could also serve this Scotch old-fashioned with your favorite Scottish foods, like after a Scottish beef stew for dinner or dipped shortbread cookies for dessert.

FAQ

Is an old-fashioned cocktail better with bourbon or Scotch?

You can make an old-fashioned with any type of whiskey. Bourbon offers a sweet, caramel flavor, while Scotch is stronger and smokier. You can also use rye whiskey or Irish whiskey, which have different flavor profiles. It comes down to personal preference for which one is best.

What kind of whisky is best for an old-fashioned?

You can use any type of whiskey in an old-fashioned. Bourbon is the most common, as it is sweeter with honey and toffee flavors. Scotch whisky is smokier and more robust, rye whiskey is spicier and Irish whiskey is light and fruity.

More whiskey cocktails

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A glass of a Scotch cocktail with ice and a spoon.

Scotch Old-Fashioned Cocktail

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
With orange bitters and honey syrup, this sweet and smoky Scotch Old-Fashioned Cocktail is a surefire way to enjoy Scotch whisky.
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ingredients

  • 2 ounces Scotch whisky
  • ¼ ounce honey syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 piece orange zest
  • 1 cocktail cherry
  • 1 ice cube

instructions

  • In a mixing glass or right in your rocks glass, add honey syrup and tequila. Stir together with a bar spoon.
  • Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass. Pour the cocktail over the ice cube, slightly to the side of the drink. (If mixing in the glass, carefully lower in a large ice cube or ice ball.)
  • Add a few dashes of orange bitters and garnish it with a piece of orange zest and a cocktail cherry.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Calories: 190kcal Carbohydrates: 11g Protein: 0.2g Fat: 0.03g Sodium: 5mg Potassium: 32mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 7g Vitamin A: 53IU Vitamin C: 16mg Calcium: 23mg Iron: 0.4mg
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