This Gingerbread Old Fashioned is a deliciously cozy winter cocktail. The flavors of ginger, cinnamon and molasses pair perfectly with rye whiskey. Gingerbread syrup adds sweetness and flavor, complemented by ginger bitters, but the rye definitely remains the star of the show. A cinnamon stick and orange peel round out the flavors in this delicious drink.
This is the perfect easy cocktail to make during the holiday season. It's easy, versatile and brings together all of the warmth and cozy feeling of Christmas and the winter holidays.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this cocktail.
- Rye Whiskey - the spicier notes of rye goes perfectly with the ginger flavors here. I used Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey.
- Gingerbread Syrup - you can use store bought or make your own (see the next section for homemade instructions).
- Ginger Bitters - I love hella brand Ginger Bitters for this drink.
- Orange Peel
- Cinnamon Stick
How to make Gingerbread Syrup
You can certainly use store bought gingerbread syrup for this cocktail. But, if you want to make Gingerbread Syrup at home, it's pretty easy to do!
Start by peeling a knob of fresh ginger using a spoon. After peeling it, cut it up into pieces. Then, add 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of water to a saucepan. Add in the cut up ginger followed by 2 tablespoons of molasses, 2 cinnamon sticks and a handful of mulling spices.
Bring everything to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes. Then take it off the heat, cool to room temperature and strain it into a bottle for storage. Keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you'd like to substitute some ingredients, here are some suggestions!
- Rye Whiskey - bourbon is also delicious in this drink, as is any kind of whiskey. Dark rum, brandy or añejo tequila would also work really well.
- Gingerbread Syrup - if you don't have gingerbread syrup, a mix of cinnamon syrup and molasses will give a nice warm flavor. You can also mix in some fresh ginger juice for a ginger kick. You could also use a mix of ginger syrup, cinnamon syrup and molasses.
- Ginger Bitters - if you don't have the hella brand bitters, you can use angostura bitters. Or, Elemakule Tiki Bitters would also be delicious.
Here are some variations you can make to this drink:
- Keto-friendly Gingerbread Old Fashioned - any Old Fashioned is pretty easy to make with low sugar, since you just have to use a sugar alternative for the syrup. Try out Jordan's Skinny Mixes Keto Gingerbread Latte Syrup, or make your own using a keto-friendly brown sugar (and skip adding extra molasses).
- Gingerbread Cookie Garnish - instead of the cinnamon stick and orange peel, you can use an actual gingerbread cookie as a garnish for a fun twist!
- Gingerbread Infused Whiskey - want to really up the gingerbread flavor in this drink? Make a gingerbread-infused whiskey! Add fresh ginger chunks along with a cinnamon stick and some mulling spices to a mason jar and pour in enough whiskey to cover them. Leave it at room temperature overnight (or up to a week) before straining and bottling the whiskey. If you leave it longer, you may want to take out the cinnamon stick and spices, but leave in the ginger.
- Gingerbread and Bailey's - if you want something a little creamier, I suggest adding ½ to 1 ounce of Bailey's Irish Cream to this recipe. You can skip the orange peel garnish if you do.
To make this drink, you'll need a cocktail mixing glass with a heavy bottom, a jigger or small measuring cup, a long bar spoon, and a cocktail strainer. You'll also need a serving glass, and a vegetable peeler, paring knife and cutting board for the orange peel garnish.
If you're in search of a really great mixing glass and bar spoon, check out A Bar Above. You can get 10% off using my discount code, LKDrinks. They have a few different styles available and they all look great on a bar cart!
Start by prepping the orange peel garnish. Use a vegetable peeler to take off a wide piece of peel, and then clean up the edges with a paring knife. Set it aside while you make the drink.
If you are using a large ice sphere, place the sphere into your glass now to give it some time to warm up. If you try to pour the drink in while it's too cold, it will crack and no longer be clear. (This is called "tempering" the ice.)
Then, start the drink by adding the rye whiskey to a cocktail mixing glass.
Then add in the gingerbread syrup and the ginger bitters.
Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir for 30 seconds, trying to keep the spoon on the edge of the glass so you are spinning the ice around. When you're done, strain the drink into the prepared serving glass.
Squeeze your orange peel over the top of the drink, so the orange oils will be expressed over the top of the drink. Add the peel to the glass, and finish it off by adding a cinnamon stick garnish.
Hint: Like a little more sweetness and gingerbread flavor? Just add ½ ounce more of the gingerbread syrup to the mix!
Frequently Asked Questions
The ingredients are rye whiskey, gingerbread syrup and ginger bitters. The rye whiskey, which has a little different and spicier character than bourbon, is great for pairing with ginger. Also, many traditional gingerbread recipes call for rye flour, so using it is an homage to that tradition.
The traditional Old Fashioned is made with bourbon, so that's always a great option. Any aged spirit will shine in an Old Fashioned.
The base of gingerbread syrup is just sugar, water and molasses. You can also use brown sugar in place of the white sugar if you don't have molasses. When this mixture is heated with fresh ginger and spices, it takes on their flavor, kind of like making a tea.
This is a perfect drink for serving at a party, because you can make it in advance in a big batch. Rather than stirring with ice, add about ½ ounce of water (preferably filtered or bottled) per cocktail to the recipe. Mix everything together in a large pitcher, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
Gingerbread Old Fashioned
- Vegetable peeler (for orange peel)
- Knife and cutting board (for orange peel)
- Cocktail strainer
- fresh orange (for the peel only)
- cinnamon stick
- Use a vegetable peeler to take off a large piece of orange peel.
- Use a paring knife and cutting board to cut off any rough edges of the peel, making it into a parallelogram shape. (Optional, but nice for presentation!) Set it aside while you make the drink.
- If you are using a large clear piece of ice like a sphere, add it to your glass beforehand to give it time to temper. It could take 10 to 15 minutes depending on how cold your freezer is.
- Add the rye whiskey, gingerbread syrup and ginger bitters to a cocktail mixing glass.
- Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir for 30 seconds.
- Strain the drink into the serving glass.
- Squeeze the prepared orange peel over top of the glass.
- Add the orange peel to the glass, followed by the cinnamon stick, and then serve.