This Christmas Old Fashioned cocktail is a delicious and festive twist on a classic cocktail, blending the rich warmth of bourbon with the winter spice flavors of allspice and cinnamon. Each sip of this holiday Old Fashioned is like unwrapping a little Christmas present! A simple garnish of an orange peel, cinnamon stick and star anise ties it all together.
This is one of those simple holiday cocktail recipes that you can't go wrong with! Allspice Dram is a liqueur that you'll definitely want to have on hand throughout the Christmas season. It's also used a lot in tropical Tiki drinks! Try out the Lion's Tail cocktail for another Allspice Dram and whiskey cocktail.
Looking for more holiday cocktails? If you like this one, you'll also enjoy the festive Gingerbread Old Fashioned! If you're looking for a Christmas drink that's on the more refreshing side, try the Cranberry Margarita or the Cranberry Whiskey Sour.
History of the Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest cocktails out there, and it definitely has a long history going back to the early 1800's (source). It is definitely a spirit-forward drink, highlighting the base whiskey with just a little sweetness and bitterness in balance.
The traditional Old Fashioned uses a sugar cube in the serving glass, with bitters added directly to the sugar and then muddled. In modern bars, usually a little bit of syrup and bitters is used instead of the more labor-intensive sugar cube method. (Either way makes a really great drink!)
There are tons of variations on the Old Fashioned, and my Christmas Old Fashioned uses liqueur and spices to amp up the flavor! It's really easy to play around with this drink by just changing out the bitters, and even the garnish, you use.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this drink:
- Bourbon - although you can use rye whiskey or blended whiskey, bourbon works really well here. It's a little sweeter and smoother than the others, and is a great base to go with the spice flavors. I used Maker's Mark bourbon.
- Allspice Dram - this is an allspice liqueur, also known as Pimento Dram (allspice berries come from the pimento tree). It has a warm spice flavor that is like a mix of cinnamon and cloves, but with a spicy undertone. I used The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram here.
- Cinnamon syrup - I used homemade Cinnamon Syrup, which is really easy to make (and perfect to have on hand for the holidays)! But store bought also works well-- try DaVinci cinnamon syrup.
- Angostura bitters - It's pretty easy to find these in a grocery store or liquor store. They are the most common bitters used in cocktails, and they have a distinct bitter flavor with a hint of cinnamon and other spices.
- Orange bitters - lots of bitters brands now make orange bitters, and they go really well with the spices here. I used Regan's orange bitters.
- Orange peel - an optional garnish, but it really enhances the orange flavor.
- Cinnamon stick - another garnish that elevates the drink with a cinnamon aroma.
- Star Anise - the star anise is an optional garnish, but it definitely gives an elegance and a deeper aroma to the drink.
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Bourbon - You can substitute another aged spirit instead of the bourbon. Try an aged rum, or reposado tequila.
- Allspice Dram - If you don't have Allspice Dram, you can always make your own version by combining a cup of vodka with ¼ cup of whole allspice berries in a mason jar. Let it sit for an hour or so, and then strain out the allspice. Mix it with some simple syrup, about 1:1 ratio. Or, you can try using maple syrup along with Dashfire allspice bitters.
- Cinnamon Syrup - Demerara syrup would work great here, or maple syrup. You can add in a pinch of ground cinnamon along with this, or try a cardamom flavor like The Bitter Housewife cardamom bitters.
- Orange Bitters - you can omit these if you don't have them, but if you do, definitely try to use the orange peel garnish. You can always use extra Angostura, or sub in The Bitter Housewife cardamom bitters or Hella brand Ginger Bitters for a different flavor.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Cranberry Christmas Old Fashioned - Instead of cinnamon syrup, use a spiced cranberry simple syrup (like in the Mistletoe Martini). Garnish with the orange peel, cinnamon stick and some sugared cranberries on a cocktail pick.
- Evergreen Old Fashioned: Replace the cinnamon syrup with rosemary syrup for a fresh and woodsy twist (homemade or store bought rosemary syrup). Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary instead of the orange peel.
- Classic Old Fashioned method - for this method, you can omit the cinnamon syrup. Place a cube of unrefined sugar, like Turbinado sugar cubes, in the bottom of your glass. Add both bitters directly to the cube, and then use a muddler to mash up the cube. Add in the Allspice Dram and bourbon, and then your large cube of ice. Stir it down in the glass with the bar spoon, add the garnishes and serve.
To make this cocktail, you'll need a jigger, a cocktail mixing glass, a bar spoon and a strainer. You'll also want to have an old fashioned glass/double rocks glass for serving.
For the ice, a large cube or sphere of clear ice is ideal because it melts much more slowly than regular ice cubes. Try out this clear ice sphere maker if you don't have one.
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Start out by adding the Allspice Dram and cinnamon syrup to your mixing glass.
Add in both types of bitters.
Add in the bourbon, and then fill the mixing glass with ice.
Use your bar spoon to stir the mixture, for about 30 seconds. This will chill and dilute the drink.
Add a large cube of ice to your serving glass, and strain the liquid into the glass.
Twist the orange peel over top of the glass to release the oils, and add it into the glass. Then add in the star anise and cinnamon stick, and serve. Cheers!
Hint: Sometimes your clear ice can form cracks inside if it's too cold when you pour in the liquid. To help stop this from happening, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes after taking it out of the freezer. This is called "tempering" the ice.
Top Tip - Batching
This Christmas Old Fashioned recipe is perfect for making a big batch ahead of time! Just multiply all of the ingredients by the number of drinks you want to make. Mix them together, and then add ½ ounce of water per cocktail.
As an example, if you want to make a batch of 12 cocktails, mix 21 ounces of bourbon, 15¾ ounces of Allspice Dram, 2 ounces of cinnamon syrup (12 teaspoons), and 1 teaspoon of each type of bitters (12 dashes each). Then, mix in 6 ounces of water.
Add everything to a large resealable bottle or other glass container. (For the 12 cocktail example, make sure your container holds at least 45 ounces -- around 1½ quarts.) Seal it up, and keep it in the refrigerator. You can keep it pretty much indefinitely when stored this way! It makes a great holiday gift and is super easy to bring to parties too.
Christmas Old Fashioned
- Vegetable peeler (if you are adding the orange peel garnish)
- Add the bourbon, Allspice Dram, cinnamon syrup, and both bitters to a cocktail mixing glass.
- Fill the glass with ice and use your bar spoon to stir everything for about 30 seconds.
- Add a large piece of ice to your serving glass (or a few smaller cubes if you don't have a large one).
- Strain the drink into the serving glass.
- Squeeze your orange peel over top of the glass to release the orange oils onto the drink, and add the peel into the glass as a garnish.
- Garnish with the cinnamon stick and star anise, and serve.