Rum old fashioned

Our resident drinks columnist enjoys the simplicity of the Old Fashioned, elevated and modernised by the new generation of impressive boutique rums

April 17 2020


Rum is ‘having a moment’ these days, and it’s now possible to find small-batch, vintage, cask-strength and single-estate ones with all the complexity and quality of fine Scotch whisky or cognac.

A pioneer in this area has been the Foursquare rum distillery in Barbados. Its Exceptional Cask Selection is a fantastic range of limited-edition vintage and cask-strength rums finished in a variety of different casks. Here I’ve used Foursquare Dominus – 10-year-old rum aged in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-cognac casks that’s full of dried fruit and gingery spice notes. Another connoisseur’s favourite is the independent bottler Velier. But big names including Diplomatico, Mount Gay, and Appleton have lately made some excellent special-editions too.

It would be a waste to pour rum this good into a punch, although you could add it to a Daiquiri at a push. Far better to savour its qualities in a slow-stirred Old Fashioned.

The first step is to find the right glass – an elegant, heavy rocks glass will encourage you to take your time. Good, fresh ice is essential too. An Old Fashioned looks particularly striking over a single large ice block (you can easily find silicone ice moulds for spheres and cubes online). A long-handled bar-spoon with a flat end (officially there for muddling fruit) will also make your stirring much more professional. Instead of using the spoon end, flip the spoon over and slip the flat end under the ice. Flick your wrist and the ice will spin around very easily.

I like a dash of orange bitters in there: The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters are more zesty; Angostura Orange Bitters a bit more spicy. But they’re not essential. The orange twist is, however. So be sure to use a fresh ripe orange for maximum fragrance. The sugar syrup is optional, depending on the sweetness of your rum.

Do savour the preparation, as well as the drink itself. That ritual is all part of the fun.


60ml Foursquare Dominus Rum
5ml sugar syrup (optional)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Orange twist to garnish

Stir ingredients gently with cubed ice for 25 seconds. Garnish with the twist and serve.


Alice Lascelles is a contributing editor to the Financial Times, and writes ‘The Goblet’ for How to Spend It magazine