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It’s no secret that I’m a huge Old Fashioned fan. I have a lot of fun creating riffs as well. When I came up with this Brown Sugar Old Fashioned, I knew I had a winner. It’s simple to make but has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. The recipe also lends itself well to batching. You can easily make 8-10 at a time, store in a sealable bottle, and store it in the freezer. However you prepare it, it’s really delicious.

Prepare a Brown Sugar Syrup

Making this simple syrup is easy. I’ve shared some variations previously that take a bit more work, like the grilled pineapple syrup. However, this one is ready in less than ten minutes, which includes time to cool. For my version, I used light brown sugar. You can also use dark brown sugar which will give it a richer caramel flavor. This is due to the higher amount of molasses in the dark brown sugar (6.5%) versus the light (3.5%).

Pick Your Bourbon

best bourbon for a brown sugar old fashioned

While it’s perfectly acceptable to use whatever whiskey you like, I find Four Roses Bourbon to be one of the best for cocktails. It’s affordable and mellow enough to allow your other modifiers to shine. I also like that many of my “non-whiskey” friends tend to like it once they try it. You’ll always find this bottle in my home bar.

Balancing the Flavors

To make the flavors of the brown sugar syrup and the bourbon pop, I selected some special bitters and added smoke. For the bitters, I used Vena’s Aromatic bitters which contain Sarsaparilla, Cardamom, Orange Peel, Cloves, Wormwood, Fennel, Sassafras, Cinnamon, Allspice, Anise Seed, Gentian Root. I also made a version with Crude Attawanhood bitters. The Crude bitters feature cherry, clove, and cinnamon notes. Both bitters worked well. If you don’t have either, try whatever bitters you have that are closest to warm, fall spices.

For the smoked element, I used Spirits with Smoke’s Smoking Board (which you might recognize from my gift guide). It’s super easy to use and creates a perfectly smoked glass every time. I used oak smoke for my glass. Once you have the board, use a small butane torch to burn the wood until a little smoke appears. Capture the smoke by inverting a rocks glass over the board and let it fill with smoke. When you are ready to strain your cocktail into the glass, turn it back over and add ice and your cocktail.

Brown Sugar Old Fashioned

brown sugar old fashioned

Once you’ve assembled your Brown Sugar Old Fashioned, as outlined below, it’s ready to enjoy. If you want to present it well, I would suggest using clear ice and a dried pear garnish. I hope you enjoy this simple but delicious tipple. Cheers!

Brown Sugar Old Fashioned

Keyword: bourbon, old fashioned


  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 0.5 oz brown sugar simple syrup
  • 3 dashes warm or spiced bitters


  • Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.
  • Stir 20-30 seconds.
  • Strain into a smoked rocks glass with a large ice cube. Serve and enjoy!

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