Old-Fashioned Bourbon and Orange Shortbread

I like to think I have a fairly sophisticated palate and I tend to enjoy *most* of the finer things in life. However, no matter how hard I have tried, I just cannot get behind sipping on bourbon.  I want to be the cool girl that quaffs a rare cask strength bourbon on the rocks, but as soon as I get a whiff of it I turn into a child forced to eat lima beans. I gag, get full body shakes, and simply straight up reject the flavor and aroma. Every few years I play this game with myself thinking “Oh, I’m older and wiser now, I’m sure my palate will enjoy it now.” Wrong. I simply am not that cool.   

Alas, I can get behind baking with bourbon, and these Old-Fashioned inspired shortbread cookies are as close as I’ll ever get to drinking this classic cocktail.  First things first, we need to discuss the butter.  There is approximately one sh*t ton in this recipe, and because it’s the dominant ingredient, you have to make sure it’s good, just like Ina would say.  My go-to is Kerrygold which I stock up on at Costco, but it is also available at Trader Joe’s for a reasonable price.  The flavor is so rich and creamy, it definitely makes a difference in anything you bake with it. I used two kinds of sugar (three if you count the coating!) because I wanted the flavor the brown sugar adds as well as the melt in your mouth texture the confectioner’s sugar provides. Next up are the flavorings, which come predominantly from fresh orange zest which is balanced with the sweet and smoky bourbon and tart jammy Maraschino cherries. The end result is one of my favorite cookies I’ve ever made, and I’ve made A LOT of cookies.  

I hope you give these a try this holiday season and are cool enough to enjoy them with a freshly made Old Fashioned.  

Old-Fashioned Bourbon and Orange Shortbread

  • Servings: about 20 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened (453 grams)
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (150 grams)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (50 grams)
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 6 Maraschino cherries (I used Luxardo), drained and roughly chopped
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (560 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups demerara sugar


Add butter, brown sugar and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream for 3-4 minutes, or until pale yellow and fluffy. Add orange zest, bourbon and chopped cherries, mix on low speed until combined.

Sift flour and salt together, then add half of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then add remaining flour and mix just until no streaks of flour remain.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board, then add half of the dough in the center. Shape the dough into a 10 inch cylinder, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough, then chill each dough log for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap one dough log and brush with egg white, then press in the demerara sugar until evenly coated. Cut into 1/2 inch rounds, then place about 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the sugar edges begin to caramelize and the cookie is a light golden brown just on the edges.

Let cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough log.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

  1. I’ve had the bourbon shortbread cookies and they taste like a true “Old Fashion”.

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