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Rum Old Fashioned

When it comes to classic cocktails, it’s hard to beat a properly made Old Fashioned. I’m continually amazed that such a simple combination can create such a perfect synergy of flavors. Of course I make my Old Fashioned with bourbon or rye, but did you know you can enjoy the simple beauty of an Old Fashioned with rum? If you haven’t tried a Rum Old Fashioned yet, here’s your chance to rectify that.

The Approach

With the rum providing the dominant flavor to this drink, it’s important to choose an aged rum that will be complemented and enhanced by the other ingredients. Given that we’ll be adding sugar, we don’t want to start out with a sweet rum such as Zaya. Rather, we want to use a dry rum with some complexity such as the Appleton 12-Year pictured here. (It’s also a good way to use up any sippers you don’t find enjoyable enough on their own.)

There are a lot of folks who enjoy smashing sugar cubes with their muddlers. I am not one of those people–I much prefer the easy mixing qualities of homemade simple syrup. There are also folks who like to turn their Old Fashioned into a fruit salad by adding and muddling cherries and orange slices. I do not subscribe to this school of thought. I do, however, like the addition of an orange twist–especially because rums often have a natural orange note, and the twist works collaboratively to enhance the overall sensory experience.

You can use any manner of bitters in your Rum Old Fashioned, but I tend to stick with the tried and true Angostura. Fees Brothers Old Fashioned bitters are good as well, but can impart too much of a root beer vibe for some.

Enough with my ramblings, here’s the recipe for your delectation:

Rum Old Fashioned Recipe


  • 2 oz. aged rum
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup (1:1)
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Thick orange twist
  • Add rum, simple syrup and bitters to an Old Fashioned or Double Old Fashioned glass.
  • Stir the contents
  • Add one large ice cube
  • Garnish with the orange twist
  • Enjoy!

What’s your preferred rum for a Rum Old Fashioned? Let me know in the comments below.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2012 12:20 pm

    Great post.

    The Rum Old Fashioned is actually, when all is said and done, my preferred version of the cocktail. I pretty much agree with everything you have written here, though I would take issue with the notion that something one doesn’t enjoy sipping on its own should be used in an Old Fashioned. In my opinion, one should avoid using base spirit in a cocktail that you wouldn’t want to drink straight. (Particularly in Old Fashioneds). Also, personally I enjoy using demerara syrup in lieu of regular simple.

    My favorite rum to use in this drink is Clement VSOP. In general, big, dry rums are king.

    Do you ever mix rums? Sometimes I get creative with my rum Old Fashioneds and put together a blend.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      March 7, 2012 1:22 pm

      Thanks, Chaim! The rums I most enjoy drinking neat are typically slightly sweet Central/South American types such as Abuelo and Zacapa. I find that adding sugar to those can make the drink too sweet for my palate, but to each his own.

      I like your idea of using the Clement VSOP, but I’m even more intrigued by the notion of combining rums in an Old Fashioned. My favorite Mai Tai recipe uses Appleton 12 and Clement VSOP, so perhaps that’s a place to start!

  2. May 1, 2012 5:28 pm

    Rum Old Fashioned Proper
    1.5 oz Westerhall Plantation Rum (lots of vanilla and citrus notes)
    .25 oz orange and pimento tincture (macerate orange peel and pimento berries in 151 rum for 5 days)
    .25 oz cane syrup (2 parts demerara sugar and 1 part water)
    2 dashes of orange bitters
    1 thick orange twist

  3. AndrewC permalink
    November 26, 2012 9:01 pm

    Just thought I would say that I’ve seen many recipes for old fashioned, many more than I would think possible for such a simple drink, and the one you post has always been my favorite. The variations I have seen have all sorts of bad ideas- orange bitters, sweet rums, water, and of course lots of fruit. Yuck.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      November 26, 2012 9:06 pm

      Mahalo, Andrew! Cheers!

    • Scott Thomas permalink
      April 14, 2013 2:26 am

      Also Maraschino liqueur – tried it, does NOT work.

      • Scott Thomas permalink
        April 14, 2013 2:32 am

        Oops my mistake that was a rum manhattan – but it still didn’t work lol.

    • Scott Thomas permalink
      March 10, 2016 11:55 pm

      I don’t consider orange bitters a bad idea at all – in fact, since I bought a bottle of Angostura Orange Bitters at walmart last summer I have been using a blend of them with regular Angostura bitters in all my old fashioneds.

  4. August 19, 2014 5:16 pm

    I love this drink and the recipe you have for mine is simple and the best, my only change is I use real sugar and drop the bitters into it before stirring. My favourite rum or one of, is Chairmans Reserve, and to spoil myself 1931. However when I’m at bars, agreed a dry rum is the go! Great drink

  5. May 18, 2015 4:51 pm

    I LOVE rum old fashioneds. I’ve been making them exactly like this, except instead of the simple syrup I use a small amount of quality maple syrup. Would also be interesting to try with molasses, though I’ve not done that yet. First had it at a bar in Hollywood where they used Atlantico Private cask, which is good and adds a little smokiness. I’ve been using Kirk and Sweeney lately, as it’s not a sipper for my taste, but does well in a cocktail. Loving your blog, Josh!

  6. Haggy permalink
    September 1, 2015 6:39 am

    I also love old fashiond, at the moment I like tham with the Ron millonario reserva especial 15 aged in Solera-System.

  7. Rob S.Rob S. permalink
    February 23, 2016 6:05 pm

    I like to gently muddle the orange twist with the rum and sugar initially, then remove it entirely. Gives it the perfect hint of orange.

  8. Sam Shewan permalink
    March 10, 2016 8:57 pm

    I just made this drink with Rhum Barbancourt 8 year, and it turned out pretty awesome. I read this and the comments and wanted to try a dryer rum or Agricole, but I didn’t want to spend more than $20. After all, I can get Fighting Cock bourbon for $17 and Rittenhouse Rye for $22, so I wanted to get a rum in that price neighborhood. This rum ended up costing about $20 and worked out well. I just wish I could find something like this with just a little more ABV. This 8 year Rhum Barbancourt was 43%, I think this would’ve been even better at around 50%


  1. New Cocktail Post: Rum Old Fashioned « Inu a Kena

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