The Marmalade Old Fashioned

Inspiration, Part One

I picked up a bin of what I thought was “chicken scraps” from my local yuppie-hippie market a few weeks ago and found myself in possession of a lot of free organic citrus.

Free Citrus

Since my chickens don’t eat citrus, and since I hate food waste, I made marmalade.

My dad used to spread Smucker’s marmalade on wheat toast. His preferred preserve was always safe from the the kids – my sister and I wouldn’t touch that bitter faux-jam stuff. And even though I’m all grown up and my tastes in many things have changed, I’d never made marmalade. The conviction that I just didn’t like marmalade was never something I questioned.


Staring at all that lovely citrus, I thought it was the perfect time to put my youthful food prejudices aside, so I made the Three Citrus Marmalade from Food In Jars. It didn’t really set up, and as it turns out, I still just don’t really care for marmalade. It gets a big meh from me.

Inspiration, Part Two

So in between seed starting, writing, and fighting the periodic desire to duct tape my willfull three-year-old to a wall, lately I’ve been watching this TV show called Mad Men. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – apparently it’s wildly popular and has been on for years. Always fashionably late to all things pop-culture related, I just discovered the show on Netflix about a month ago, and I’ve been binge-watching my way through the first six seasons.

Mad Men involves a lot of drinking. I run a regular series of cocktail-posts here, am no stranger to a fine tipple, and even I think those characters need to ease back on the hooch. The main character, Don Draper, has, over the course of six seasons, gone from charmingly libatious to psychopathically alcoholic. From one story arc to the next, one woman to the next, his drink of choice remains the Old Fashioned.

Don Draper Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a simple drink – bourbon or rye, sugar, bitters and a little citrus oil from a muddled orange. Sometimes it’s finished with a splash of soda water. Often a cherry is added, too, though purists argue that any fruit is unnecessary.

As I was watching Don Draper make himself an Old Fashioned, I had a kind of aha moment. The sweet, citrus bitterness of my unloved marmalade could stand in for muddled sugar and orange peel. And so my absolute favorite way to use marmalade was born – The Marmalade Old Fashioned.

As the old saying goes, when life gives you mixed citrus, make a mixed drink. Or something like that.

The Marmalade Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

You will need:

  • 2 oz. rye or bourbon whiskey
  • Aromatic bitters
  • Marmalade
  • An orange wedge and a few high-quality bourbon or brandy-soaked cherries (optional). If you only have those bright red dyed maraschino cherries, just skip them. They do more harm than good.

Old Fashioned

Step by Step

Get a nice, double Old Fashioned glass with a heavy bottom (we love these). Add a scant 1 tablespoon marmalade and a cherry or two to the bottom of the glass. Mash up the cherry with the end of a bar spoon. If your marmalade is very thick, you may need to melt it in order to get it to combine in the drink.

Old Fashioned

Add 2 oz Rye or Bourbon and 2-3 dashes aromatic bitters to the glass. Stir everything together so that the marmalade is fully dissolved in the liquor.

Old Fashioned

Top drink with ice, and garnish with an orange wedge and another cherry, if desired. I don’t go in for the club soda, but you can add a splash if you must.

Old Fashioned

Enjoy responsibly. If you aren’t sure, just ask yourself, “What would Don Draper do?” and then do the opposite.

Happy Weekend! Cheers!


  1. Austin says

    We don’t really like marmalade either, but we have a tangerine tree and in prolific years… what else CAN you make? I’ve learned that it makes an awesome glaze for roast chicken, however. That is, if you have any left over from the drinks!

    • Karen says

      Try marmellata. It takes out the skins and as much of the white as you can get off, so it’s way less bitter. It’s quite delicious! You can also make a clementine cake, but that’s not going to use up a good quantity.

  2. MJ Godfrey says

    Lol! From ductaping three-year-old to “do the opposite” I laughed hard leaving a clueless husband looking at me like a crazy woman. :)
    I really enjoy your writing.

  3. Christina says

    OMG! What a fabulous idea!!! And me on a low-carb diet of necessity :(

    On your continued dislike of marmalade because of bitterness… I suspect you may then be a “super taster” (, they usually find bitterness, that others may like, intolerable. My mother is one, so I recognize some of the symptoms. Personally, I love marmalade of all varieties, but lemon is my favorite. If you have it in you to make on more try, may I suggest Meyer Lemon Marmalade? If you find you don’t like that, well, the quest is hopeless!

  4. CristinM says

    Erica – have you ever made a cocktail with Dram Allspice? We had a cocktail at MY China in San Francisco called a “Nixon Visit” which had square one cucumber vodka, dram allspice, agave syrup and cucumber. Delicious. I found Dram Allspice (St Elizabeth) and tried to make one at home – awful!!! Now I have a bottle of Dram Allspice to work my way through…

  5. says

    Ok, my dad ate marmalade on wheat toast and maybe that is why I have always loved it – because I wanted to be just like my dad. I learned how to make marmalade this year, and making your own is amazing because you have so much control over the bitter/sweet/tangy flavors. I added two whole vanilla beans to the boil after two days of soaking and the results taste like a creamsicle that you can spread on toast. I just made an old fashioned with a dollop of my vanilla-orange marmalade and…heaven. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. MM says

    Erica, this is an amazing old recipe for a marmalade that is carried by Fortnum and Mason. And the woman giving the recipe is simply wonderful! And it’s very easy—you cook the fruit first, then chop up. No tedious slicing and peeling. It really worth checking out.

  7. Robin says

    Love it! Thank you! I sometimes go to a restaurant called The Observatory here in Portland. I love it there because everything is delicious and also because they have a drink called the Fresh Fashioned. It’s like yours, a fruity spin on the Old Fashioned, including cherries which is the best part to me. I mean, besides Bourbon and its lovely effects. So finally tonight, I made your Marmalade Old Fashioned and love love love it. Unfortunately, my husband did not. He’s kind of a lightweight, it’s true, and now I know he’s not a fan of Bourbon. But that’s OK; tomorrow we’ll try your Gin and Ginger, which I think will be more up his alley. Meanwhile, I’m happily tipsy on from my glass of your Marmalade Old Fashioned and am quite contentedly working on finishing his. Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>