I prefer figs over pumpkin spice, and creating this Fig Old Fashioned just cemented itself as my new favorite fall bourbon cocktail. I’d been planning on making a fig syrup for cocktails for weeks, and when I finally did my first use of it was a scrumptious Fig Old Fashioned that will be a staple for the next few weeks (or as long as the simple syrup lasts). I love figs, but my climate doesn’t favor figs. I’m always jealous of friends who have fresh figs this time of year. I have to settle for dried figs or purchases from the market.
So I’m settling for an easy and delicious fig simple syrup to concentrate the flavors of fig perfectly for use in a cocktail. I’m using dried figs from my pantry to make it fast and simple to put together.
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What is an Old Fashioned?
An Old Fashioned is one of the oldest whiskey cocktails, or cocktails, period. A version was first recorded in print in 1862 with Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks as the Whiskey Cocktail and used whiskey, water, bitters, and sugar (gum syrup). It had likely been in circulation as a cocktail since the early 1800s. For more on the history and the elements of the Old Fashioned, head to my article How to Make a Perfect Old Fashioned.
Some prefer to muddle their Old Fashioned with sugar, bitters a dash of water, and an orange peel, but I prefer to use simple syrup and build mine in a mixing glass. I don’t relish tiny bits of orange pulp and sugar in the last few sips of my cocktail. But I’ll always tell you to find the way you prefer your cocktail when you make it at home.
Flavors in this Fall Fig Old Fashioned
Many people identify fig both on the nose and palate of whiskies, so using figs as a cocktail ingredient is a brilliant pairing. I prefer to use either Crude’s Syncophant orange and fig bitters or Fee Brother’s Black Walnut Bitters – both make excellent additions to the cocktail. And of course you’ll want to have some fig simple syrup on hand as well, but it’s easy to make with dried figs.
For the whiskey, I opted to use a higher-end Bourbon – Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Fusion #2 because I loved the dried fruit notes from it neat and wanted to elevate and build on those flavors. But, this will work well with any bourbon or rye that exudes spice notes, dried fruit or vanilla. I would opt for 100 proof or lower to make certain the bourbon’s flavors still take center focus in the cocktail.
How to Make this Fall Fig Cocktail
Old Fashioneds are simple to make. I create mine in a mixing glass, adding bourbon, fig syrup and bitters with ice, then stirring for about 30 seconds until well-combined. But if you prefer to build in the glass, there’s one less item for the dishwasher. To serve, I strain the cocktail in a rocks glass with one large cube, express one orange peel over the top and garnish with fresh or dried figs.
To build this in the glass, add simple syrup, bitters, and bourbon to your old fashioned glass. Stir to combine. Add one large ice cube and stir for about 20 seconds. Express an orange peel over the top and garnish with fresh or dried figs.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
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Fig Old Fashioned
- 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
- ½ oz fig simple syrup
- 2-3 dashes Crude Syncophant orange and fig bitters or Black Walnut Bitters
- Garnish: fresh figs, expressed orange peel
- Add bourbon, fig syrup and bitters to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for about 20 seconds and strain into a rocks glass with one large cube. Express an orange peel over the top and garnish with a fresh fig.