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Dress Up Your Old Fashioned with this Spicy Smoked Old Fashioned

5 from 2 votes

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Cocktail with orange peel and sugar cubes
Smoke and Spice Old Fashioned

If you’re a serious bourbon drinker you will want to try this smoked old fashioned ASAP. Bourbon is made for smoky cocktails. The fact that every bourbon barrel is charred on the inside links the flavor of bourbon to the char on the inside. While some bourbons taste mildly smoky, or have a slightly smoky finish, in general, bourbons are never as smoky as an Islay Scotch whisky or a great mezcal.

I designed this recipe specifically for serious bourbon drinkers. I keep the proof high, and I add a dash of intrigue with some smoky, spicy bitters from Hella Bitters company. It is a cocktail I return to again and again, and batch when I’m going to a party with some of my fellow bourbon lovers.

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What is an Old Fashioned?

old fashioned cocktail with a smoked garnish
Smoked Old Fashioned Cocktail

If you’ve been to my site before you know old fashioneds are one of my go-to cocktails. For me, a great old fashioned celebrates the whiskey inside it. It’s one of the very first cocktails developed and consists of whiskey, bitters, and sugar. My basic Old Fashioned recipe and the history of the old fashioned can be found here: How to Make a Perfect Old Fashioned.

I love brown sugar simple syrup and orange bitters along with a 100 proof bourbon. I want to taste the bourbon and I want it to be elevated by the addition of the simple and the bitters.

Smoked Old Fashioned for the Discerning Bourbon Drinker

cocktail with orange and sugar cubes

If you’re a classic old fashioned drinker you probably aren’t interested in adding a lot of different things to your cocktail. You want it to taste like an old fashioned and you want to taste the whiskey. A lot.

You’re in luck. I’ve got a classic old fashioned with just one small tweak. I added some bitters that are smoky and have a tiny bit of heat in them (Hella bitters smoked chili bitters).

But if you don’t have bitters with smoke in them, head to my article Four Easy Ways To Smoke a Cocktail at Home for 4 easy ways to add smoke to a cocktail.

For this one, you’ll like the smoked old fashioned best if you make it with raw sugar to create a 1:1 demerara simple solution and use a barrel-proof bourbon or rye. This one will put hair on your chest. For a little more information on how to make simple syrups, head to my guide here: Everything About Simple Syrups.

How to Make the Simple Syrup for this Smokey Old Fashioned

small bowl of syrup with a drizzle poured into it.
image by bhofack2 via Canva

Now, for the simple syrup, I used raw sugar, but if you don’t have that you could do a simple syrup with 1 cup water, and 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar for a very good approximation of it.

I heat up 1 cup of water in the microwave, add the sugars and stir until everything is dissolved. I then store it in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

And if you’d like to really play, see if you’ve got some sorghum in your pantry, and create a simple with that as your sweetener. It adds a lot more earthly, full-bodied notes to the cocktail than a straight white sugar simple syrup. This is best made with a 2:1 ratio of sorghum to hot water. Again, once made, this should be stored in the fridge.

How to Smoke a Cocktail Glass for an Old Fashioned

smoking glass

On additional step was smoking the glass. For this, I lit a cinnamon stick on fire, and set the glass over the top of it to put out the fire, but to soak in the smoke while I prepared the cocktail. This puts the smoke in the smoked old fashioned.

For more ways on how to smoke a cocktail, head to my article on smoking cocktails at home. You can smoke a the glass, the cocktail, or even just the garnish. And it all comes down to how smoky you want your cocktail.

Best Bourbons for this Smoked Old Fashioned

So go to your bourbon cabinet and find a barrel-strength bourbon (or rye). I recommend Pikesville Rye or Wild Turkey Rare Breed. Both are bar staples for me because of their aggressive and complex flavor profiles and their easy availability here in Kentucky.

Because we’re adding both smoke and heat flavors to this smoked cocktail, make sure that the whiskey flavors still stand up to the addition of high-proof, smoked accents to the cocktail. To do that, look for bourbons and ryes over 100 proof – and ones that have a great bite and finish to them.

cocktail with orange peel and sugar cubes

Some Other Smoky Cocktails to Enjoy

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:

cocktail with orange peel and sugar cubes

Smoke and Spice Old Fashioned

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Swing back to the basics with this timeless Old Fashioned with a hint of smoke and heat in the bitters. It’ll elevate your old fashioned even further if you use a high proof whiskey and serve over a large cube of ice. As the ice melts, the drink slowly sweetens and the fruit and vanilla notes really come out as the water opens up the nose and taste on this cocktail.
5 from 2 votes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1


  • 2 oz 110 to 115 proof bourbon – barrel strength preferred
  • ½ oz demerara simple syrup
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes Hella smoked chili bitters
  • Garnish: orange peel/smoked cinnamon stick


  • Combine bourbon, simple and bitters in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir well to combine and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large cube of ice. Express an orange peel over the top of the cocktail and sip slowly. As the high proof bourbon melts the old fashioned changes character and evolves into a sweeter, more approachable drink. Or it could just be the alcohol.
Keyword allspice, old fashioned, smoke
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

By on March 28th, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location

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