Rum Old-Fashioned

A slight variation on the classic of classics

Photo: Johnny Autry

The old-fashioned is the Doric column of the cocktail world. A sturdy and simple pillar of whiskey, sugar, and bitters, it doesn’t cry out for experimentation. But here’s a bit of heresy: It does work surprisingly well with the South’s first spirit—rum, which was imported from the Caribbean long before corn decided it wanted to be liquor.

With rum experiencing a new golden age, now is the perfect time to be adventurous. Creative Southern producers, such as Richland in Georgia, are making aged variations robust enough to pair with bitters, and even such larger traditional brands as El Dorado are releasing more refined expressions. The right rum can mimic the steadfast appeal of the whiskey original while adding a bright underlayer of tropical notes—always welcome on a winter’s night. And opt for orange bitters if you have them. They send up small fireworks of understated festivity.


    • Thumb-sized orange peel (no pith, and certainly not a wedge)

    • 1 sugar cube

    • 2 oz. aged rum (such as Richland Rum or El Dorado 5)

    • 3–4 dashes orange bitters

    • Maraschino cherry (a good one, such as Luxardo, not an alarmingly fake red cherry)


  1. Lightly muddle orange peel with sugar cube and a tablespoon of water in a rocks glass. Add rum and bitters. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Add a large ice cube or two and stir again briefly. Garnish with maraschino cherry.