You can make an old-fashioned whether youre using bourbon, brandy, rum, mezcal or genever. Varying levels of sugar, bitters and ice can balance almost any spirit, and perhaps the most defining element that helps tie it all together is the oil and aromatic from the citrus garnish, whether it be lemon, orange or grapefruit.

Many variations have come and gone, but the American Trilogy, created by Richie Boccato at NYC’s Little Branch back in 2007, strikes the right balance by bringing together both rye whiskey and Laird’s Apple Brandy with orange bitters. Using a combination of spirits means getting the benefit of both the spice from the rye and the rich fruit from the applejack, while also substituting brown sugar for a white sugar cube and Regan’s orange bitters for the potentially overpowering Angostura bitters.

Part of the key to making a good old-fashioned — which David Wondrich has rightfully quipped should be common knowledge, like knowing how to make a decent hamburger — is properly blending the sugars and bitters into a smooth emulsion before adding the spirit. After that, one could get away with as little stirring of the ice as possible, since part of the enjoyment of this drink is sitting and watching it evolve as it dilutes. Master any version of this drink, and you’ll easily make friends wherever you go. Enjoy.

Old-Fashioned Cocktail Recipe