Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail

The old fashioned is arguably the first cocktail created. Within its structure you will find spirit, water, sugar and bitters, which means it is open to a great deal of interpretation. Switch out spirits, change up the bitters, use a different type of sugar or sweetener; it is up to you. You will still have an old fashioned!


2 oz Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

1/8 oz rich simple syrup

3 drops vanilla bitters

three large orange zests

two large lime zests


add all ingredients to a mixing glass expressing citrus oils in the glass

stir with ice

strain over large ice into old fashioned glass


Steven D. Lauria 30 May 2012
10:13 am

Hi Charlotte—- I want to try your drink—- the Rum Old Fashioned—- but I cannot find vanilla bitters anywhere around here in Los Angeles, California. I’ve querried all of the stores that usually carry hard-to-find bitters…but none have it.  Can you tell me where I might be able to get some? Thanks.

Steven D. Lauria 30 May 2012
11:41 am

Never mind, Charlotte, as I found Bob’s Vanilla Bitters. It’s sold in the West at The Meadows in Portland, Oregon, and they’ll ship; however, it’s about $30 a bottle…plus shipping.

Robert Hess 30 May 2012
11:49 am

Steven, with all of the various bitters around these days (amazing to think about, considering the bleak landscape of only a few years ago), it can often be difficult to get “the” bitters that somebody might have used in a particular drink.

I personally have never tried vanilla bitters, so I’m not sure what their overall flavor profile is (besides vanilla of course), but I suspect that this drink would still be very tasty using many other bitters. Spiced Rum already has some vanilla notes in it, so the vanilla characters of a vanilla bitters may not be quite as important here (but I’ll let Charlotte chime in otherwise if necessary).

I’d recommend first trying this basic drink with a couple other bitters that you might have on hand before clinking down the $30 a bottle… plus shipping… for the vanilla bitters.

And maybe you could keep your eyes out at bars in your area to see if any of them might by chance be carrying these bitters?


Steven D. Lauria 30 May 2012
12:07 pm

Robert, thank you very much. Yes, I’m thinking about trying some Old Fashioned Bitters.

steve7500 31 May 2012
1:19 pm

Thank you Steven and Robert. I was just going to ask this very question. I have looked on line and at several specialty stores and many have never heard of it. I will try Fee Bros. Old Fashion Aromatic. I love Sailor Jerrys and Charlotte is a great Mixer and I am going to try this now. Will let you know.

CVoisey 31 May 2012
1:28 pm

Steven, Steve and Robert - Sorry for joining the conversation late! 
Bob’s Vanilla Bitters are pretty spectacular and were the motivation behind doing this particular cocktail on The Proper Pour - they really bring a wonderful note to the drink!
That said, if you cannot get ahold of them Angostura bitters always make a choice!
The Old Fashioned is one of those gems, a great template to mix around the parts to come up with a new cocktail!  Old Fashioned bitters too would be delicious no doubt..

Thanks all for watching

steve7500 31 May 2012
1:43 pm

Thanks to All. I really enjoy the clips with Charlotte & Robert. Keep up the good work and Steven,Thank you.

Steven D. Lauria 31 May 2012
6:52 pm

Charlotte, thanks. Steve, I’m going to try the Old Fashioned Bitters. If you try another…let me know the outcome.  Thanks.

steve7500 31 May 2012
8:44 pm

I am usually pretty good at following instructions but either the vanilla bitters are absolutely crucial or the Old Fashion bitters just don’t work - it was not a good drink . I almost want to try Orange bitters which I have but I am now “gun shy” - I also could have put more bitters in than was necessary ? I may try once more with the Old Fashion but use a more measured amt. I know it was more than 3 drops as Charlotte used. Let me know how you came out.

Steven D. Lauria 31 May 2012
9:06 pm

Now, I’m afraid to try it, too, after what you just told me.  A helpful man at the Bitter Truth company told me to try putting a wee bit of vanilla extract in my bitters. He said that I might be happy with the outcome…but I don’t know.

Steven D. Lauria 31 May 2012
9:10 pm

Oh, Steve, I just can’t see spending some $30 plus shipping to buy the vanilla bitters from the only store in the West (which is in Portland) that sells them.  That would make for about a $40 drink.

steve7500 1 Jun 2012
8:19 am

That entered my mind but I am not real keen on adding Van.Extract,are you ? I sure wasn’t happy with the out come of the cocktail I made w/o Van Bitters but can’t be real sure that was the sole issue. I also thought that the orange & lime MIGHT have been the problem. I like Sailor Jerrys Rum and hate for this to happen !

Steven D. Lauria 1 Jun 2012
9:52 am

Steve, yes, I love Sailor Jerrys Rum, too, so I likewise hate to see it happen. I was really looking forward to a tasty drink. I think that I’m just going to forget about this one…especially after your valuable input.  Thanks.  Cheers!

steve7500 1 Jun 2012
10:04 am

If anything changes,I’ll let you know. I ain’t giving up just gonna think it through.

Steven D. Lauria 1 Jun 2012
10:13 am

Oh, good, yes, Steve, please do!

CVoisey 1 Jun 2012
10:46 am

Hi guys - don’t forget that a bottle of bitters goes a long way, you can make hundreds of cocktails with one bottle.  Apologies for using something so specific but it really does make the cocktail shine. Robert Petrie aka Bob is one of the best in the business, I have been using his stuff for ten years now and I am delighted that his bitters are now available on the market. Only the most delicious cocktails make the cut on The Proper Pour and I am excited to share this one with you all.
Thanks, Charlotte

steve7500 1 Jun 2012
11:58 am

Charlotte, I have had much success and pleasure using the info you pass down. For whatever reason this drink isn’t working. I mentio ned that I had to use Old Fashion Bitters and that could be what caused the break down. The only other thing that I can think of is trhe adding of Orange and Lime zest - any ideas ? Thanks for all you do,

Steven D. Lauria 3 Jun 2012
4:53 pm

Charlotte, please ask your friend Robert Petrie, d/b/a Bob (out of London, I believe) to try to get more stores in the USA to carry his Vanilla Bitters. I live in Los Angeles, California, and the closest store to me to carry the product is in Portland, Oregon—The Meadow, (503) 288-4633. A bottle costs $30. I’d cosider buying it, but then I’d have to pay shipping on top of that. I’m not going to pay cose to $40 for a cocktail using Sailor Jerry as a base-spirit. For sure, as you say, a bottle of vanilla bitters will go a long ways, but I don’t know of any other cocktails using vanilla bitters. And since it appears as if vanilla bitters is an essential ingredient in your Rum Old Fashioned…I’ll just have to wait until Bob’s Vanilla Bitters is sold in Los Angeles or until I get to Portland, Oregon.


Thank you!

Steven D. Lauria 12 Aug 2012
9:24 pm

—Just got myself some Bob’s Vanills Bitters and have now tried this drink. I must say that it is delicious.  First off, the nose gets a full aroma of fresh and clean vanilla before the taste. Then, the taste goes to the middle of the tongue where I can again appreicate the vanilla from the rum and from the bitters mixed with other spices, the most pronounced of which I want to say is caramel; however, the vanilla is not overpowering. The texture is pretty rich and the balance of different flavors from the spices of the rum makes for a nice play on the tongue. It’s not too sweet; not too hot. The lime and orange zests do give it a fresh after taste. Next time, though, I want to use less lime zest, as I think I got a bit carried away with it. I used pretty big ice from bottled water I put into poached-egg cups. The two chunks kept the drink chilled without too much dilution. The vanilla bitters certainly make this drink a success, and it wouldn’t be much without them, I think.

steve7500 10 Oct 2012
12:50 pm

I have not made this cocktail since we talked in August. You mention the use of too much lime zest;that could also be part of my problem. I am going to order some of the Vanilla Bitters from Portland. I hate to spend that much on something I may only use on this drink - - - but, that’s the way it goes,I’ll do it. If you have tinkered with this anymore and have additional suggestions ,please let me know.

Bam 13 Jul 2015
11:11 pm

3 dashes Angostura, 2 dashes cherry bitters, 1 sugar cube, splash of water, & Meyers dark worked nicely.

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