Scotch Old Fashioned

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 25, 2023

Read how to make an excellent Scotch Old Fashioned. This riff on one of the most traditional cocktail recipes has a perfect balance without being too adventurous.
Scotch Old Fashioned Cocktail

As the name suggests, a Scotch Old Fashioned replaces the classic whiskey base with peated Scotch Whisky. The result is a smoky take on an Old Fashioned Cocktail, balanced with chocolate bitters and a Maraschino cherry.

The traditional recipe is one of the oldest cocktail creations and is often named the first cocktail in history.

Quick Facts Scotch Old Fashioned

  • Method: stirred 
  • Flavor profile: boozy, dry, smoky
  • How to serve it: straight up
  • Best glassware: old fashioned glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 24%, 15 grams of alcohol per serving

Today, you can see twists on the classic recipe everywhere. Yet not all of them are actually good, and some push the limits too far. -But the Scotch Old Fashioned is a winner!

Scotch Old Fashioned Recipe

Recipe Scotch Old Fashioned

A smoky take on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Keyword: bitters, Demerara syrup, scotch
Servings: 1
Calories: 172kcal
Cost: $2.20


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Mixing glass
  • 1 Bar spoon
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 1.5 oz Peated Scotch (Laphroaig 10y)
  • 0.5 oz Demerara syrup
  • 3 dash Chocolate bitters
  • 1 Maraschino cherry


  • Add Scotch, Demerara syrup, and chocolate bitters into a mixing glass filled with ice.
    1.5 oz Peated Scotch (Laphroaig 10y), 0.5 oz Demerara syrup, 3 dash Chocolate bitters
  • Stir until the drink is well chilled.
  • Strain over a large ice block or sphere into a rocks glass.
  • Garnish with a speared Maraschino cherry.
    1 Maraschino cherry


Serving: 2.25ozCalories: 172kcalCarbohydrates: 5.53gSodium: 4.48mgPotassium: 7.76mgSugar: 5.37gCalcium: 4.28mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommendations for the Scotch Old Fashioned

For this Scotch Old Fashioned recipe, we keep the number of ingredients at three, plus garnish, as it is in the original. 

  • Peated Scotch: For this twist on the Old Fashioned, don't be afraid to use a more peated Scotch and add some seriously smoky notes to the drink. My recommendation is a Laphroaig 10 years.
  • Demerara syrup: We like rich demerara syrup with Scotch. You can also opt for the classic approach using a sugar cube or regular simple syrup. However, using Demerara syrup makes the drink easier to mix and smoother in taste.
  • Chocolate bitters: Angostura bitters aren't the perfect choice for this recipe. Instead, go with chocolate bitters. They add a warm sweetness that helps balance the Scotch and restain its smoky taste. They do a terrific job of rounding off the cocktail. Way better than the regular choice of Angostura bitters would.
  • Maraschino cherry: For the garnish, best use a Maraschino or maybe a brandied cherry instead of the classic orange peel. The combination of chocolate, cherry, and peated smoke is so good. If you can't real Maraschino cherries or don't want to spend the money, you can make these deliciously flavorful cherries at home with our recipe for Maraschino cherries.

The taste of a Scotch Old Fashioned

Compared to a classic Old Fashioned, the Scotch version tastes a lot smokier and oakier. Also, the drink's flavor profile is a bit more complex and mature, and incorporating demerara syrup gives it a bit of a caramelly flavor and a slightly silky texture. 

Best Practices

Apart from using the right ingredients, you can apply these best practices to get a bar-quality Scotch Old Fashioned:

  • Stir your drink for at least 20 seconds (approx. 50 rounds), so ensure it's well-chilled and you get enough dilution from the ice.
  • Serve your cocktail with a large, clear ice cube. The better the quality (determined by the factors "large & clear") of your ice, the better your drink.
Bartender stirring Scotch Old Fashioned cocktails

Scotch Old Fashioned vs. Classic Old Fashioned 

The classic Old Fashioned follows a straightforward template: A sugar cube soaked with Angostura bitters, bourbon or rye whiskey, and a citrus peel as garnish.

The soaked sugar cube is placed in a whiskey tumbler and muddled with the help of a splash of water. Then ice cubes and whiskey are added.

Finally, the drink is stirred and then garnished with a citrus peel. Typically this used to be a peel from an orange.

The Scotch version replaces all these elements without altering the overall concept: Scotch instead of bourbon, syrup instead of a sugar cube, a different kind of bitters and a cherry instead of the citrus peel.

More Variations

Over time, numerous variations of the Old Fashioned established themselves. There are twists called other types of whiskey: Like Scotch, Canadian Whisky, and Irish Whiskey deliver some fantastic Old Fashioned cocktails.

Moreover, you can find riffs on the recipe using Old Tom Gin, genever, Brandy, tequila, and even exotic spirits like cachaça. Some really attempted to push the boundaries of the cocktail to its max. The problem with many twists wasn't the spirit base.

Bartenders added absinthe, curaçao, or maraschino liqueur, garnished with all sorts of fruits like pineapple, cherries, orange, and lemon. Often, these drinks looked more like a fruit salad than an Old Fashioned.

As you might guess, we don't like these overly inventive takes on such a classic very much. If you want to experiment, you better do so with the bitters. We have a whole article dedicated to finding the best bitters for an Old Fashioned. Check it out and try some.

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