This recipe has roots dating back to the mid 1800's. It has evolved over time and you should feel comfortable evolving it in your kitchen, to your taste.
A long time ago, I didn't drink "brown" drinks. No bourbon, no whiskey, no rye, no scotch. (I still don't drink scotch. It smells like Band-aides... EW.) Then, a friend who could be a cocktail-whisperer, introduced me to the Old Fashioned. It is a simple recipe with few ingredients yet ties them together with grace in an exceedingly easy-to-drink cocktail. After I met the drink at the party, the Old Fashioned became the first cocktail I felt comfortable enough to make for guests. BC (Before COVID-19), of course.
The techniques used are the foundation for other stirred drinks. They are simply this... stir to:
Below is my favorite way to make and drink the Old Fashioned. You'll find purists out there who do this differently. I'm not one of them. I love riffing off the recipe and serving it how I like it best.
However, the thing that I must have, and I don't consider this drink an Old Fashioned without, is an orange twist. And you want to twist the orange peel directly over your glass so that the oils from the skin mist out and down, landing in the drink. The aroma brings it all together for me and it isn't complete without that twist. If you haven't seen these oils, look for them next time you're able to play with a peel. They are like hidden mojo for drinks.
Often, you'll see this served on the rocks... rock actually. One of those lovely, giant ice cubes. And while I won't refuse it on the rocks, I prefer it up. The only difference between serving it on the rocks vs up is the amount of time you'll stir the ingredients with ice before pouring. If you're serving it on the rocks, stir for less time (about 15 seconds) because the rocks will melt and continue to dilute the drink in the glass.
Otherwise, you'll want to fully dilute the drink before pouring into a glass.
Once you get the hand of stirring to both cool and dilute, branch out. Play with the strong liquor (rye is one of my favorite here!). Experiment with the sweetener (runny honey, maple syrup, the cherry syrup from the jar). Try all different kinds and flavors of bitters. Add more than one kind of bitters. The ideas are endless.
For one drink
2 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon simple syrup (or to taste)
2 dashes bitters (like Angostura or Abbot's)
Maraschino Cherry (please find the real thing and not the hyper-colored and artificial red ones)
Stir all ingredients for the drink over ice:
Either way, test before pouring. If it is too strong, add a little more simple syrup or stir for longer.
Pour into your glass.
Twist orange peel over the glass letting the oils hit the top of the drink.
Add a cherry.