8 minutes (plus 1 week for infusion)
If you order an old-fashioned at a bar, chances are you’re expecting a whiskey cocktail. But seeing a rum old-fashioned recipe is not so unlikely. Take a glance at bartending books both classic and contemporary, and you’ll discover there’s no fixed recipe for the drink. The name refers to the method of preparation: A base spirit is softened and enhanced by the addition of sweetener, bitters, and citrus. An old-fashioned cocktail can be built with bourbon, mezcal, tequila—or any spirit you like (yes, even gin). Rum is my personal favorite—it has the depth of the more common rye old-fashioned but with lighter notes of flowers and fruit. It’s an easy way to put a fresh spin on an aged rum I’d otherwise drink neat.
When I want to bring in some extra tropical flair, I replace the usual simple syrup or sugar cube with a dash of banana-infused rum. Often associated with tiki cocktail recipes or frozen drinks, I find the cordial shines in spirit-forward preparations. You can make it yourself by soaking dried banana chips in the spirit for at least one week. But if you just can’t wait, use a high-quality banana liqueur such as Tempus Fugit, Giffard, or Marie Brizard. Either way, a good banana booze is a fun addition to any home bar—and equally delicious as a replacement for the sugar syrup in a daiquiri. (Prefer to skip the banana? Sub in ¼ oz. demerara syrup.)
A one-two punch of bitters (in the form of Angostura aromatic bitters and orange bitters) adds subtle, fragrant notes of allspice and cardamom. I finish the drink with an orange twist, but I don’t slip it into the drink since I only want the peel’s oils, not the extra bitterness that would seep into the glass as it rests in the liquid.
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Combine 8 oz. unsweetened banana chips and 2 cups aged dark rum in a jar. Seal jar and let sit at room temperature at least 7 days and up to 10 days.
Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (line sieve with a layer of cheesecloth for the clearest infusion) into a small bowl; discard solids. Pour infused rum into a clean jar; cover with lid (makes about 2 cups).
Do ahead: Infused rum can be made 1 month ahead. Store at room temperature.
To make 1 cocktail, with a barspoon stir 2 oz. aged dark rum, ½ oz. banana-infused rum (or store-bought banana liqueur), 2 dashes Angostura bitters, and 2 dashes orange bitters in an old-fashioned glass or rocks glass filled with a large ice cube until very cold, about 20 seconds. Twist 1 wide strip orange zest over drink to express oils; discard. Garnish with banana leaf or banana chip.