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A Rum-Based Old Fashioned with Navy Island XO Reserve

The Old Fashioned is about as classic as it gets, dating back to the early 1800s. Esquire Magazine even claims that the concoction was literally the very first cocktail recipe ever published, back in 1806. Traditionally made with whisky, and later with bourbon, this classic cocktail combines the bite of bitters with the sweetness of sugar, pulling it together with an orange twist. Twenty years ago, well into his retirement, my grandfather enjoyed a single Old Fashioned every afternoon at 4 without fail. He always mixed it himself, sipping from his very best glass while sitting in his favourite armchair beside the window in winter or enjoying the sweltering summer heat as the days grew longer. And he wasn’t alone: the simplicity and smoothness of the cocktail has appealed to generations.

Over time, more variations on the classic theme have emerged. Gradually, rum has increasingly supplanted rye or bourbon as the central spirit in the Old Fashioned. The widespread popularity of this variation on a classic theme can be attributed in part to Jamie Oliver, who featured the Rum Old Fashioned on his Drinks Tube website – although Jamie resorted to the accessible but less complex Bacardi Dark Rum in his recipe.

More recently, a recipe for the Rum Old Fashioned published in Imbibe Magazine in 2018 suggested using home-made demerara syrup rather than granulated sugar or a sugar cube, and optionally replacing the orange peel with lemon. Other variations have been bandied about on various sites, but what truly makes a difference in the Old Fashioned is the choice of spirit. So, if you’re opting for a Rum Old Fashioned, why not check out the Navy Island XO Reserve? Navy Island is a truly unique rum brand that captures the beautiful essence of Jamaica. The XO Reserve is a superior blend of hand-selected Jamaican rums, including some of the finest aged rums distilled in traditional Jamaican pot stills.


- 80 ml Navy Island XO Reserve 

- 4 dashes Angostura bitters 

- 15 ml dark cane sugar syrup 


Build the ingredients slowly over ice cubes in a Rocks or Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with orange zest.  

Navy Island XO Reserve is a gorgeous rum that blends modern quality with traditional craftsmanship. The beautiful bottle and lush, appealing label are supplemented by a lovely cylindrical gift case. Navy Island is available from online retailer Master of Malt. 




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