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There are only six cocktails (Part 1) - The Old Fashioned

There are only six cocktails (Part 1) - The Old Fashioned

There Are Only Six Cocktails - The Old Fashioned.

At Rusty Barrel, we don't just sell the best luxury cocktail shakers on the market. We also have a range of accessories and books to take your home cocktail making to expert mixology status.

One of our favourite books is the Cocktail Codex, by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan. 

Despite the book containing more than 350 recipes (or "specs," if you want to sound like a true mixologist), they make quite a bold claim.

There are only six cocktails.

We'll just let that sink in for a little while.


Now we know a thing or two about cocktails, and we've poured over our fair share of cocktail lists over the years, so this took us a little by surprise.

But when you break down the ingredients in any cocktail, no matter how exotic, they all take inspiration from just one of six route recipes.

So what are these alcoholic originals?

Over the next few blog posts, we'll explore each in-depth, but this month the star of the show is our old favourite, the Old Fashioned.

An Old Fashioned can be found on the pages of cocktail lists in all the bars in all the world. 

It's so iconic; it even has its own glass.

But at its simplest, it's four things. 

A spirit, sugar, bitters, and ice.

Oh, and a garnish. 

So, five things.

Still, pretty simple, right? 

So how do you make it?


The Classic:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 large ice cube
  • 2 shots of bourbon
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon twist and 1 orange twist for garnish 

Rusty Barrel Old Fashioned


The How:

Soak the sugar cube with the bitters and drop it into an Old Fashioned glass. Muddle the sugar cube until it has dissolved, and pour over the bourbon. 

(If you need a muddler, check out the Rusty Barrel Mayfair Cocktail Making Set)

Add the large ice cube and stir until the bourbon is chilled.

Using a vegetable peeler, cut a strip of peel from an orange and another from a lemon.

Squeeze ("express") the orange twist over the Old Fashioned and then rub it around the rim of the glass before popping it into the cool, amber liquid.

Express the lemon twist too, but don't rub it around the glass, or you'll just be tasting lemon for the rest of the night.

Pop the lemon into the glass too.

Put on your smoking jacket, slowly lower yourself into a high-backed, leather club chair next to a roaring fire, and savour the smoky, citrusy, and slightly sweetened Old Fashioned.


The Curveball

As we've already mentioned, there are only six cocktails, and one of those six is the Old Fashioned.

By playing around with the spirit, the bitters, the garnish, or even the ice, you can end up with a huge range of cocktails inspired by the classic route recipe.

Such as a Champagne Cocktail.


Yes, the Champagne Cocktail is just a fancy Old Fashioned.

Because champagne is a little less boozy than bourbon, you don't need to dilute it with ice—you simply use chilled champagne.

And because the bubbly is full of, well, bubbles, you don't want to stir this sparkling little number, so just pour it straight into the flute,

But you still have the sugar cube, the bitters, and the garnish. 


The How:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • Dry champagne
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • One lemon twist for garnish

Put the sugar cube on your bar spoon and dash the bitters over it until the cube is saturated. 

(There's a great bar spoon in the Rusty Barrel Bloomsbury Cocktail set)

Pop the sugar cube into the champagne flute, tilt the glass and slowly fill it with champagne.

Express the lemon twist over the top, and drop it into the flute.

Sip, and enjoy, your Old Fashioned in disguise.

Next time, we'll take a look at the most iconic cocktail of all—the martini. 

It even has its own emoji 🍸

Rusty Barrel Cocktail Set

Previous article There Are Only Six Cocktails (Part 2) - The Martini


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