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The timeless Old Fashioned never needs reinventing

New Year’s is a time when we try to reinvent ourselves — or at least, try something new. But there are some habits that aren’t worth breaking. For Frank Mills, a bartender at Jack Rose’s Dining Saloon in Washington, D.C., that old habit is crafting an Old Fashioned.

The traditional whiskey or bourbon drink, which by some accounts is 200 years old, “is simply timeless” in both its name and its build, says Mills, who serves up hundreds of these cocktails at Jack Rose, home of the largest whiskey selection in the Western Hemisphere.

Though Mills drinks the Old Fashioned year round, most people retreat to the simple mixture of whiskey, sugar and bitters in winter months, when holiday candies and cookies best complement the cocktail’s hints of baking spices and warm undertones.

Mills plays on that nostalgia by infusing his version of the drink with more than a dozen spices, from cinnamon sticks to cardamom and anise — something any home bartender can do by combining equal parts sugar and water with spices of choice on the stovetop. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes; let steep and strain before serving or storing.

Old Fashioneds are perhaps one of the easiest cocktails to make, coming together in just a few minutes. Mix spiced syrup (or plain sugar) with bourbon and bitters and garnish with an orange peel — that’s it. You can serve one or many in a flash, depending on the size of your crowd.

Bourbon Old Fashioned

Courtesy of Frank Mills, Jack Rose Dining Saloon

2oz. Bulleit Bourbon
.25 oz. Spiced simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Jerry Thomas Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Stir all ingredients in mixing glass. Strain in rocks glass over ice. Garnish with orange peel. Enjoy.

We’re closing out 2017 with 12 days of cocktails, a series of traditional and unusual holiday drink recipes from bartenders, mixologists and beverage directors across the country. Find them as they’re published here.