Maple-Cardamom Old Fashioned Bitters

October 20, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes 1 drink
Author Notes

This loose interpretation of an old fashioned came out of an improvisation when I ran out of maraschino cherries, but it definitely holds its own against the original. The flavors are especially suited to fall and winter, but I enjoy them year-round!

While you can use store-bought bitters, I highly recommend using the recipe below. I think the addition of a little cinnamon adds warmth that works really well with this drink. —Julie

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Julie has been a member of the Food52 community for the past year.
WHAT: An old fashioned redux with homemade bitters.
HOW: For a drink worthy of Don Draper, combine cardamom bitters with bourbon and maple syrup in a rocks glass, then add ice and garnish with an orange twist.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This updated old fashioned is smoother and slightly sweeter than its predecessor, using maple syrup instead of the classic sugar cube. The homemade bitters bump this recipe up another notch, enriching the whiskey with a warm, spicy-sweet kick. If you need us, you'll find us curled up with a glass by the fireplace. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the old fashioned:
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 scant teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 dash cardamom bitters (see recipe below, or use store-bought)
  • Ice, to serve
  • 1 twist orange peel, for garnish
  • For the cardamom bitters:
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed slightly
  • one 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup 100 proof vodka
  1. For the old fashioned:
  2. In a rocks glass, stir together the bourbon and maple syrup.
  3. Top with bitters and ice and stir once or twice more.
  4. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
  1. For the cardamom bitters:
  2. In a mason jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, cover cardamom pods and cinnamon stick with vodka. Secure lid and let sit at room temperature for 5 to 7 days.
  3. Strain and discard cardamom and cinnamon. Store bitters at room temperature.
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See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mizerychik
  • JulieS
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  • suzannac

12 Reviews

mizerychik December 19, 2021
What makes these bitters actually bitter? The recipe seems like you're making spiced vodka, not bitters here. Do the spices bitter as they steep?
Julie December 20, 2021
I left out a bittering agent in favor of ingredients that are easier to come by. The flavor is strong and aromatic and only slightly bitter from the concentration of spices.
Nina November 16, 2017
Would it work to use store bought Cardamon bitters if you don't have time to make your own?
JulieS March 17, 2017
I can't wait to make this! I have some Wood's Bourbon Maple Syrup that would be killer in this!
BocaCindi January 22, 2017
The cardamom bitters jar is so fragrant even after day two. Had pods and forgot to crush, so put in 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds in addition to pods. Can't wait to try this in a few days.
BocaCindi March 17, 2017
I absolutely love this drink.
Megan May 26, 2016
This sounds delicious, an interesting twist on my favorite drink, how long should the bitters last?
Julie May 26, 2016
Hi Megan - indefinitely, as far as I can tell. There's nothing in there that will go rancid, so it's just a matter of flavor. Mine are almost two years old and still going strong!
Graeme T. May 18, 2015
I make old fashioned a lot, both with Bourbon and Scotch whisky and love the idea of making my own bitters, especially with those two special ingredients.
suzannac April 14, 2015
This is a lovely cocktail. The homemade bitters really add a nice spicy finish. My only suggestion would be a little less maple -- but that might be my own personal taste preferences.
LeBec F. April 12, 2015
julie, nice job! i know zilch about hard liquor. Can white rum also be used to make bitters- instead of vodka? the reason i ask this question is:
Julie April 13, 2015
Sure - you should be able to use any hard liquor to make bitters, the higher proof the better. It'll alter the flavor a little but that's not necessarily a bad thing!