The perfect bourbon thanksgiving Old Fashioned does exist with this fast and easy pumpkin spice cocktail that whiskey aficionados and newbies can enjoy. With a quick simple syrup you can make in the microwave or on the stove and batch instructions below it’s perfect to sip one by one or with a crowd.
While the bourbon I suggest is high proof, if you’re making this for a crowd that’s not full of whiskey geeks, you can either use a different bourbon with a lower proof or add an ounce or two of ginger beer to the top of the cocktail to lower the ABV of the drink.
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What is (Pumpkin) Pie Spice?
PIe spice blends are sold in stores to assist bakers and cooks in adding the spices commonly added to bolster the flavors in a pie – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and ginger.
Each pumpkin spice brand has its own ratios and flavors, but in general, all the ingredients listed above are added to the pie spice mix. If you prefer consistency between batches, making your own pumpkin pie spice at home will help.
Otherwise, using brands of different pumpkin pie spice can have radically different flavors.
For my favorite homemade pumpkin pie spice blend head here.
What is an Old Fashioned Cocktail?
The Old Fashioned cocktail is one of the oldest whiskey cocktails. It contains whiskey, sugar, and bitters. In fact, the first use of the word “cocktail” referred to a concoction with spirit, sugar, water, and ice.
The Old Fashioned cocktail has a long history and if you want to know more about it and how to perfect your own cocktail head here. My perfect Old Fashioned isn’t muddled, and I love to experiment with different kinds of simple syrups and bitters to pair with different whiskies.
In this iteration of the Old Fashioned, I use pie spice syrup as the sugar element to add both sweetness and punchy spice flavors. Those spice flavors always meld well with the inherent baking spice and vanilla notes of any great whiskey.
Flavors in a Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned
First of all, a great Old Fashioned should never mask the flavor of the whiskey. I chose a high-proof spirit to punch through the assertive pumpkin pie spice syrup.
The spiced syrup itself has strong components of cinnamon, clove, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg.
Taste test the pie spice syrup before using it in the whiskey cocktail. If it’s too strong, cut back on the amount used in the cocktail, or add more brown sugar and water (in equal parts) to the syrup. This will dilute the pumpkin spice flavors so it marries better with the other Old Fashioned ingredients.
Now let’s talk bitters. I used gingerbread bitters and some Crude Bitters Tropi-500 with notes of toasted coconut, pineapple, and allspice. Both added some bitter flavor notes as well as highlighted flavors compatible with the pie spice and the bourbon.
If you don’t have those bitters, any fall bitters will work here, like Woodford’s sassafras and sorghum, Old Forester’s smoked cinnamon, or any ginger bitters. And if you don’t have those, a dash of orange and angostura will do.
The Perfect Whiskey for this Spiced Old Fashioned Does Exist
And it’s Jim Beam’s Baker’s bourbon. I rarely suggest a single whiskey for a cocktail but in this case, Baker’s is the perfect base spirit for this. (Small caveat – Baker’s is now single barrel, so there will be flavor differences from barrel to barrel, but still, it should work wonderfully).
For my palate, where higher proof spirits add more complexity and flavor to a cocktail, the baking spice, citrus, and vanilla notes in the high-proof whiskey are perfection.
However, I encourage you to use my sniff test for cocktails. Smell the pie spice syrup and the whiskey together. If they smell good together they’ll likely work in the cocktail. If they smell amazing together, you are going to have a winner on your hands.
How to Make a Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned
The good news is that as an Old Fashioned, putting this drink together is very easy. For instructions on how to make the pumpkin spice syrup, go to my article on how to make pumpkin pie spice syrup.
The most time-consuming part of the cocktail creation will be dipping the glass rim into caramel and then into cinnamon sugar.
Add the bourbon, bitters, and syrup to a mixing glass and fill with ice.
Stir until well-chilled, about 30 seconds, then strain into the prepared glass with one large cube.
The garnish can be easy: a flower and a cinnamon stick and star anise.
How to Batch this Bourbon Thanksgiving Cocktail
I am batching this cocktail for our small family gathering. I have a super simple method I use to batch just about any cocktail. You can read more here: How to Batch a Cocktail for a Party.
And taking into account that method, here are the ingredients you’ll need to batch this cocktail for 8-10:
- 2 cups Baker’s bourbon
- ½ cup pumpkin pie spice syrup
- 10 dashes gingerbread bitters
- 5 dashes Crude Tropic-500 bitters
- ⅓ cup water
Add all ingredients to an empty 750mL, shake or stir to combine, and chill in the fridge for about 4 hours.
After chilling, taste test and adjust to add more bitters if the cocktail tastes too sweet, or add another ounce or two of water if the cocktail tastes too high proof/hot.
To serve, put in the freezer for an hour before you pour. If setting out the bottle at a party, make sure it’s in a bucket of ice to keep it cool. For each cocktail, rim the glass with caramel and cinnamon sugar, then fill with ice and serve.
If you’d rather go with a much simpler garnish, add a cinnamon stick and star anise to each drink. Or a dash of pie spice for aromatics as guests sip.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
- Bold Old Fashioned
- Fig Old Fashioned
- Pumpkin Spice Whiskey Sour (on Instagram)
- Cran of Whoop Ass Cranberry Old Fashioned
Did you try it? I love getting unsolicited DRINK pics from you when you try out a cocktail. Send them along to me on social media. Join me on my social channels at @cocktail_contessa on Instagram and Cocktail Contessa on Facebook and use the hashtags #cocktailcontessa and #bourbonismycomfortfood.
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Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces:
You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned: the Bourbon Lover’s Best Thanksgiving Cocktail
- 2 oz Baker’s Bourbon 107 proof
- ½ oz pumpkin pie spice syrup
- 2 dashes gingerbread bitters
- 16 drops Crude Tropi-500 bitters
- Garnish: caramel rim dipped in cinnamon sugar
- Add ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice.
- Stir for 30 seconds or until well-chilled.
- Strain into a chilled, prepared glass with one large cube. Garnish.