Enjoy the Flavors of Aged Rum With a Rum Old Fashioned

A simple twist on the classic cocktail, the rum old fashioned celebrates of the flavors of aged rum. A dash of bitters, a little simple syrup, and an orange peel round it out.

Enjoy the Flavors of Aged Rum With a Rum Old Fashioned
Glasses of Rum Old Fashioned with Orange Peel
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

Many cocktails that rely on rum relegate it to the background, mixing it up with plenty of other ingredients until the rum’s flavors are muted. But I like to taste my rum’s herbaceous, fruity, nutty, floral, caramel… well, one could go on for a bit with the many descriptors for rum. 

Rum is varied, and I enjoy drinks that highlight the unique aspects of a particular bottle. A classic daiquiri does that, and so does the rum old fashioned. 

The rum old fashioned doesn’t have a clear-cut history, as many an imbiber has been mixing rum with sugar, water—and later, bitters—for hundreds of years now. But as the cocktail revival of the 2000s brought classics back to a whole new drinking generation, variations on rum drinks returned to popularity. 

Rum Old Fashioned garnished with an orange peel
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

The Best Rum for This Cocktail

As all rums have their own unique flavor profiles, keep in mind that not all of them work well for this particular presentation. I like to use an aged rum to mimic whiskey in the original, retaining what makes an old fashioned special. Here are a few of my favorite bottles, but feel free to use your favorite aged rum.

  • The Real McCoy 5 year aged rum is my choice for a lighter-bodied rum that is flavorful but easily sippable. 
  • Appleton Estate Rare 12 year is another favorite but pricer bottle that has a smoky, spicy flavor profile. 
  • Rhum Barbancourt 8 year is an “agricole” style rum (this means it is distilled from sugar cane juice, unlike most rums, which are typically distilled from fermented byproduct, like molasses). I go for this rum if I want something rich and really funky.

Rums are diverse in distillation and aging methods, and depending on where the sugarcane is grown, the flavors can be radically different. I always tell people to be aware of where the rums are made and sample lots of bottles to find what suits your tastes. 

Rum Old Fashioned with Orange Peel
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

Sugar Cubes Vs. Simple Syrup

The classic old fashioned cocktail recipe will frequently call for a sugar cube to be muddled into the drink. I shy away from muddling to keep things simple, which can be a polarizing debate among old fashioned drinkers. 

Since sugar cubes are not something everyone keeps in their pantry, simple syrup is recommended here. For a richer mouthfeel, try making a rich simple syrup. Warm 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan, stirring together until all of the sugar has dissolved. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Easy Variations

  • Make it spiced: Swap the aged rum with a spiced rum and the aromatic bitters with orange bitters
  • Make it sweet: Swap the simple syrup with maple syrup for a rich and woody variation
  • Make it tropical: Swap the aged rum for coconut rum and swap the orange peel for lime
Glasses of Rum Old Fashioned with an Orange Peel with Ingredients and Supplies in the Background
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

More Classic Cocktail Variations

Combine the ingredients:

In a double rocks glass, pour in the aged rum, simple syrup, and bitters. Add a large ice cube (or 2 to 3 smaller cubes) and gently stir about 20 seconds to chill the drink and give some water dilution.

Rum Poured into a Glass with Ice for Old Fashioned Recipe
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski
Bitters Added to Glass for Rum Old Fashioned Recipe
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski
Stir Rum Old Fashioned
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

Garnish and serve:

Twist the orange peel over the drink to release some of the orange oils into the drink and garnish the glass with the peel. Serve.

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Rum Old Fashioned with an Orange Peel
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski