Mixology at Home – Chinese 5 Spice Old Fashioned

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 7:34 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - I’m returning to my brown liquor comfort zone with today’s drink, the Old Fashioned.

I counted. I have seven Old Fashioned recipes, four of which I drink several times a month. Swap out the liquor, use a different syrup and take your pick of bitters and you have a new Old Fashioned.

This treat, a Chinese 5 Spice Old Fashioned, is the newest to my list. While not exact, my take is close to what I first tasted at a Bellagio restaurant.

The most-involved part of the drink is making the Chinese 5 Spice Syrup. Some recipes call for the spices already mixed in a powder. While convenient, I’ve found powdered spices don’t blend well with liquor. You will get a better taste by making your own syrup from scratch.

The five spices? Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds and whole cloves. See recipe below.

As for the drink:

  • 2 oz of scotch (I use Glenlivet 12-year-old scotch but use the scotch you like and can afford; or try it with rye whiskey or bourbon. Satisfy your taste buds.)
  • ½ oz of Chinese Five Spice Syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 to 3 dashes of orange bitters

Directions: In a mixing glass with ice, stir the scotch, syrup, and bitters for about 20 seconds. Then strain it into a rocks glass with a large ice cube and garnish with a freshly peeled orange twist.

Chinese 5 Spice Syrup


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TB honey
  • 2 TB star anise
  • 1 TB fennel seed
  • 1 TB Szechuan peppercorn (regular peppercorn if you can’t get Szechuan)
  • ½ TB whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken into small pieces)

Directions: Heat spices in a pan for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Take it off the burn and let it steep for an hour. Strain into a bottle and refrigerate. It can last up to two weeks, maybe a little longer.

By the way, you can try this syrup as a marinade on pork, duck, or goose. I’m not so sure about beef or lamb.