Sometimes you don’t have time to look for three bottles of liqueur, 2 different bitters, and a hard-to-find garnish – you just need a Maple Old Fashioned. Swapping out the maple syrup for a basic simple syrup magnifies the rich vanilla and caramel flavors of a classic Old Fashioned. And with those maple flavors I want nothing more than a touch of orange bitters and that fun bacon garnish to have the flavors of breakfast at dinner.
And if you wanted added layers of flavor consider using a homemade flavored maple syrup.
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What Is an Old Fashioned?
An Old Fashioned is one of the oldest whiskey cocktails. It’s a classic, today usually made with either rye or bourbon. It has just three elements – whiskey, sugar, and bitters, but the best Old Fashioneds keep the focus on the whiskey.
While you can read all about the history of the Old Fashioned in this article on How to Make a Perfect Old Fashioned, for our purposes here you just need to know that Old Fashioned can either be made with simple syrup as the sweetening agent or sometimes sugar.
When made with sugar, a muddler is used with the bitters and a small amount of water to create a simple syrup built in the mixing glass or in the rocks glass.
For this whiskey Old Fashioned, we’re making the cocktail with maple syrup so we won’t need to get out a muddler.
How to Use Maple Syrup in Cocktails
Maple syrup is delicious and versatile in cocktails. Its dark sugar notes and fragrant nose make it a perfect match to bourbon and ryes in cocktails. And when it’s infused with spices or items like coffee or chocolate it adds multiple layers of complexity to a cocktail.
For bourbon and whiskey cocktails, maple syrup is often added in place of simple syrup or a sweetening agent. For best results use pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup. And if you can locate barrel-aged maple syrup made by a company like Bourbon Barrel Foods, take advantage of it.
Use maple syrup to replace sugar or syrup in Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Sours, Whiskey Smashes, Mint Juleps (mint and maple are an amazing combination), or any non-whiskey cocktail with a sweet side like a Margarita, a Tom Collins, Daiquiris, and more.
But aside from using them in cocktails that already call for a simple syrup, they are also delicious when added to up, spirit-forward cocktails in very small amounts. Adding just a bar spoon to a Manhattan or Vieux Carre adds depth and a luxurious mouthfeel to a cocktail.
When using maple syrup as a substitute for simple syrup in a cocktail note that it can be much sweeter than simple syrup. Use about ½ the amount of simple syrup called for and adjust up as needed.
In addition, different grades of maple syrup have different levels of sweetness, flavor and viscosity. Taste test your maple syrup before adding to your cocktails and adjust the amounts to your preferred sweetness in cocktails.
Flavors in this Maple Old Fashioned
A basic Maple Old Fashioned includes just whiskey, maple syrup and bitters, but I wanted to add a few extra flavor elements to the cocktail to make it more delicious.
I started by infusing my maple syrup with coffee. There are two ways to do it. One is to infuse spices or flavor elements in the maple syrup as it rests in the fridge over several days. The second is to heat the maple syrup and steep the spices or flavorings in it for 10-15 minutes and let it cool.
Find out how to make flavored maple syrups here.
Because I added coffee-infused maple syrup, I also wanted to add orange bitters (another flavor associated with breakfast), coffee bitters and garnish with a bit of salty, crispy bacon.
For bourbon lovers with a serious fascination with coffee, add ½ oz of a coffee liqueur to further accentuate the coffee flavors in the cocktail.
How to Make a Maple Old Fashioned
Like all Old Fashioneds, this cocktail is simple and easy to make. It can be made in the mixing glass or built in the rocks glass.
To make it in a mixing glass add the syrup, bitters (I used orange and coffee bitters), and bourbon to a mixing glass, fill with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass over one large cube of ice and garnish with orange and bacon (if desired).
If you prefer to leave kitchen cleanup to a minimum, you can make the cocktail in the glass. Add the bitters, syrup and bourbon to the chilled glass, add ice and stir for 30 seconds. Garnish as above and enjoy.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
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Best Maple Old Fashioned
- 2 oz bourbon and rye whiskey
- ¼-½ oz barrel-aged maple syrup I used coffee-infused
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 dash aromatic or coffee bitters
- Garnish: orange peel, bacon
- Add bourbon, maple syrup and bitter to a mixing glass and fill with ice.
- Stir for 30 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled rocks glass with one large cube.
- Garnish with orange peel and bacon.