Christmas Old-Fashioned Cocktail

Step into the holiday season with a Christmas Old-Fashioned cocktail in hand. This bourbon drink, infused with the rich essence of gingerbread simple syrup, is a great way to elevate your festive gatherings with a delightful blend of warmth and sweetness.

An old-fashioned cocktail with the festive flavors of gingerbread cookies and a surprising twist of cherries in a glass.

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Christmas Old-Fashioned Cocktail recipe

Get ready to level up your Christmas festivities this year with my new favorite holiday drink. It’s going to put you in the festive mood!

With its strong gingerbread flavor, you’ll love making this Old-Fashioned for your holiday get-togethers, for cold weather evenings by the Christmas tree and fire and for Santa on Christmas Eve. 

This classic bourbon cocktail gets a festive twist with a hint of orange and gingerbread syrup, giving it a seasonal flavor. So, let’s get down to making this classic with a holiday spin.

More old-fashioned recipes: Chocolate Old-FashionedMaple Old-FashionedApple Pie Old-FashionedCoffee Old-FashionedVanilla Cranberry Old-Fashioned 

Two glasses of old-fashioned cocktail and gingerbread cookies on a Christmas table.

Why you’ll love this recipe

You’ll love this Christmas bourbon cocktail recipe for a few great reasons:

  • This cocktail is a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of the holiday season.
  • It’s easy to make with a quick gingerbread-flavored simple syrup plus your favorite whiskey.
  • Bourbon lovers will adore this twist on the classic whiskey cocktail this time of year.

What is an old-fashioned cocktail?

An old-fashioned is a classic cocktail known for its simplicity and timeless appeal. It is typically made with whiskey, usually bourbon, although other variations can feature rye whiskey, aged rum or even mezcal.

Old-fashioned cocktails are spirit-forward, meaning they are heavy on the booze. They don’t have any mixers like sour mix or soda, which allows the chosen spirit to shine through.

Small but mighty flavor elements are added to complement the whiskey in the old-fashioned. Typically a recipe includes:

This Christmas version offers a holiday twist with warm spices, added via a homemade gingerbread syrup. It would be delicious for a holiday party or a nightcap on cold nights. 

Two glasses of old-fashioned cocktail with black cherries and sprigs of spruce, perfect for a festive Christmas celebration.

Tools & glassware

To make the drink, a mixing glass, bar spoon and jigger are key to preparing the drink.

It’s traditional to serve an old-fashioned cocktail in what are aptly called old-fashioned glasses, which are also called rocks glasses.

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 might also want to create large clear ice cubes for each drink. They melt more slowly so your drink doesn’t get watered down as quickly.

Also, to make the spiced simple syrup, you’ll need a few more things:

  • saucepan and wooden spoon or spatula for making the syrup
  • fine-mesh strainer for refining the syrup
  • a clean mason jar or bottle for storing the finished syrup in the fridge.
An old-fashioned bottle of gingerbread syrup with Christmas cookies and pine cones.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to grab at the grocery store and liquor store to make this perfect holiday cocktail:

  • bourbon whiskey
  • gingerbread syrup (see below)
  • orange bitters — can also use Angostura bitters or cardamom bitters, whatever feels festive to you! 
  • fresh orange peel
  • cocktail cherry or fresh cranberries, for garnish

You could also use cinnamon sticks, sugared cranberries, star anise or rosemary sprigs to garnish the drink. You can use what you have on hand for an extra festive garnish. 

And though you can buy gingerbread syrup, you can very easily make it yourself with stuff you can find at the grocery store (or probably already have in your pantry). You’ll need:

  • brown sugar
  • water
  • fresh ginger root
  • molasses
  • cinnamon stick
  • allspice berries
  • orange zest
  • vanilla extract
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Best whiskey for old-fashioneds

Old-fashioneds can be made with any whiskey, but bourbon is the classic. This recipe will also work with rye, Irish whiskey, scotch and even other spirits like mezcal or rum.

Use a good quality bourbon in this recipe. My go-to is Old Forester, but you can use almost any brand. If you have a favorite, start with that. If you don’t, I suggest Four Roses, Bulleit, Tin Cup or Woodford Reserve.

 
Our Pick
 
Description:

With notes of honey and caramel, Woodford Reserve makes for a sippable bourbon that will be an excellent addition to your home bar.

Description:

Old Forester 100 Proof is a delicious, easy-drinking bourbon that works well when mixed into cocktails as well as neat or on the rocks.

Description:

Buffalo Trace has notes of sweet caramel that make it an excellent choice for sipping straight or mixing into cocktails.

Description:

With notes of honey and caramel, Woodford Reserve makes for a sippable bourbon that will be an excellent addition to your home bar.

Our Pick
Description:

Old Forester 100 Proof is a delicious, easy-drinking bourbon that works well when mixed into cocktails as well as neat or on the rocks.

Description:

Buffalo Trace has notes of sweet caramel that make it an excellent choice for sipping straight or mixing into cocktails.

Two glasses of old-fashioned cocktail with black cherries and gingerbread cookies, perfect for Christmas.

Variations and substitutions

Try one of these variations on this recipe:

Smoked Christmas old-fashioned: Add some fireplace flavor by smoking the drink. Follow these instructions for a smoked old-fashioned. (These smoking tools are great cocktail gifts.)

Non-alcoholic Christmas old-fashioned: Use a zero-proof spirit whiskey such as Ritual whiskey alternative.

A pot of brown liquid with orange peels and cinnamon sticks.

How to make Gingerbread Syrup

Here’s how to make homemade gingerbread simple syrup.

  1. First, grab a medium saucepan and add the sugar and water. Warm over medium heat.
  2. Add the sugar, water, molasses, cinnamon stick, allspice berries and orange zest.
  3. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat to low and cook for another 15 minutes. Don’t let it boil. Remove from heat.
  4. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, discard the orange zest and spices. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Store in an airtight, food-safe container like a glass bottle or mason jar for up to 1 month.

How to make a Christmas Old-Fashioned

Old-fashioneds are such easy cocktails to make. Once you have your gingerbread syrup and it has slightly cooled, grab a mixing glass and a bar spoon — or make this Christmas old-fashioned right in your rocks glass.

A person pouring syrup into a glass.
An person pouring Christmas cocktail into a glass.

Add your gingerbread simple syrup and bourbon. Stir together.

An old-fashioned glass filled with a Christmas-themed liquid and a spoon being poured into it.
A person pouring cocktail into a glass with a strainer.

Then lower in a large cube of ice or a large ice ball. (Or, if using a mixing glass, pour it over the ice in a rocks glass.)

Add a few dashes of orange bitters and garnish it with an orange twist and a cocktail cherry or a sugared cranberry.

Got extra simple syrup? Use it instead of plain syrup to make a gingerbread latte or a gingerbread mule.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • For a thicker, sticky syrup, use a 1:2 or 1:1.5 ratio of water to sugar.
  • Add a small amount of sweetener to start — you can always add a little more.
  • Plan ahead and make large ice cubes. They melt slower than regular ice, keeping your drink strong and not watered down.
  • Twist the orange peel as you wave it around the rim of the glass before dropping it into your drink. This helps to expel the essential oils and give the glass more fragrance. 
An old-fashioned Christmas cocktail with gingerbread cookies and a cinnamon stick.

What to serve with Christmas Old-Fashioneds

These gingerbread old-fashioneds go well with any holiday snacks and sweets! Start with Christmasy appetizers like cranberry brie bitessausage balls or a Christmas charcuterie board.

For dessert, this nightcap would be perfect along with a plate of cookies for Santa, like gingerbread men or ginger cookies.

FAQ

What is the best whiskey for an old-fashioned cocktail?

Bourbon whiskey is the most popular style of whiskey for old-fashioned cocktails.

How do you make a Christmas old-fashioned drink?

You can make a Christmas version of the old-fashioned cocktail with a spiced simple syrup, bourbon whiskey and a piece of orange peel. Garnish it with candied ginger, rosemary or sugared cranberries for a festive touch.

More Christmas cocktail recipes

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

An old-fashioned glass of mulled wine with a gingerbread cookie on top, perfect for Christmas.

Christmas Old-Fashioned Cocktail

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
With orange bitters and honey syrup, this sweet and smoky Scotch Old-Fashioned Cocktail is a surefire way to enjoy Scotch whisky.
5 from 1 vote
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ingredients

Christmas Old-Fashioned

  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • ¼ ounces gingerbread syrup
  • 3-4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 piece orange zest 4 inches
  • 2 cocktail cherries for garnish
  • 1 piece candied ginger for garnish
  • large ice cube

Gingerbread Syrup

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 piece ginger root 3 inches, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons molassess
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 pieces orange zest 4 inches
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

instructions

Gingerbread Old-Fashioned Cocktail

  • In a mixing glass, add the gingerbread simple syrup and bourbon. Stir together.
  • Pour into a glass with a large ice cube or ice ball. Or, if using a mixing glass, pour it over the ice in a rocks glass.
  • Add a few dashes of orange bitters and garnish it with a cocktail cherry or a sugared cranberry.

Gingerbread Syrup

  • First, grab a medium saucepan and add the sugar and water. Warm over medium heat.
  • Add the sugar, water, molasses, cinnamon stick, allspice berries and orange zest.
  • Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat to low and cook for another 15 minutes. Don’t let it boil. Remove from heat.
  • Once the mixture has cooled slightly, discard the orange zest and spices. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Store in an airtight, food-safe container like a glass bottle or mason jar for up to 1 month.

notes

Add a small amount of sweetener to start — you can always add a little more if you feel like the drink needs it.
Plan ahead and make large ice cubes. They melt slower than regular ice, keeping your drink strong and not watered down.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 2.5ounces Calories: 198kcal Carbohydrates: 17g Protein: 0.2g Fat: 0.1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g Sodium: 6mg Potassium: 35mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 14g Vitamin A: 58IU Vitamin C: 17mg Calcium: 27mg Iron: 0.4mg
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