The Oaxacan Old Fashioned (aka Mezcal Old Fashioned) is the perfect union of mezcal with tequila, agave and bitters. A must try for mezcal lovers!

Oaxacan Old Fashioned

If you’re a Mezcal lover, run don’t walk to to mix up this one: the Oaxaca Old Fashioned! This modern classic cocktail is the pristine union of smoky mezcal, tequila, sweet agave and chocolate bitters. Take one sip, and you’ll take your hat off to the bartender who cooked this one up in 2007. This one’s already solidified itself in the cocktail lexicon and for good reason: it’s just that perfect.

What’s in a Oaxacan Old Fashioned?

The Oaxaca Old Fashioned, aka Mezcal Old Fashioned, is a mixed drink that features tequila, mezcal, agave, and chocolate bitters. It’s the brainchild of bartender Phillip Ward, who invented it in 2007 at the bar Death & Co. in New York City (it later became popular on the menu at another bar, Mayahuel). It’s a spin on the classic Old Fashioned, one of the oldest cocktails there is: it was first documented in the early 1800’s by a New York paper.

The historic method of combining whiskey with a hint of sugar and bitters is revived here using both tequila and mezcal. The combination of smoky mezcal, sweet agave and funky bitters feels both classic and fresh. There’s actually more tequila than mezcal in the drink, so you could also call it a Tequila Old Fashioned. For this drink, you’ll need:

  • Tequila reposado
  • Mezcal
  • Agave syrup or honey
  • Angostura or chocolate bitters: Chocolate bitters are great if you can find them! Try Fee Brothers Chocolate Bitters. (You can substitute Angostura bitters if desired.)
  • Large clear ice cube
  • Orange peel
Mezcal

More about Mezcal

Mezcal is what gives the nuanced, smoky flavor to the Oaxacan Old Fashioned. But did you know that tequila is actually considered a mezcal? Here’s the difference:

  • Mezcal is a type of alcohol made from the agave plant. It’s actually a category that includes tequila. But tequila is made from a specific type of agave plant called agave. Mezcal can be made from 11 different varieties of agave. Read more at Mezcal vs Tequila
  • How is mezcal made? It gets its signature smoky flavor by cooking the agave in pits in the ground. This brings a depth and smokiness you don’t find in tequila.
  • How much does mezcal cost? A bottle of mezcal on average costs between $20 and $40, but high end brands can cost much more. Head to The Best Mezcal at Any Price for more about types of mezcal.

How to make a Oaxacan Old Fashioned

Once you’ve got your ingredients, the Oaxacan Old Fashioned is a simple stirred cocktail. Here’s what to do:

  • Stir the ingredients in the glass. You can build this drink right in the glass.
  • Add a large ice cube. When you’re making an Old Fashioned, a big ice cube is key. Make a batch of Clear Ice for the best results (see below).
  • Garnish! Add an orange peel. You can express the oils into the drink like a classic Old Fashioned, or even better: flame the orange peel! Keep reading for more…
Mezcal Old Fashioned

How to flame an orange peel

Squeezing an orange peel to express the oils is a traditional garnish for the Classic Old Fashioned: it adds a citrus perfume to the nose of the drink. But what if you do this while holding a match next to the orange peel? You’ll see an instant spark and it adds a beautiful burnt orange perfume to the drink! Here’s how to flame an orange peel (as always, take precautions when playing with fire):

  • Cut a piece of orange peel in a 2-inch strip.
  • Hold the peel about 2 inches from the cocktail glass and warm it with a lit match.
  • Quickly squeeze the peel to express the oils, causing it to flame briefly as the oil hits the glass.

Make clear ice in advance

For the very best Old Fashioned of any type, we recommend using clear ice. It’s crystal clear ice cubes that you can cut into organic shapes, instead of the cloudy small ice cubes from an ice tray. There are two methods you can use:

  • Make clear ice in a small cooler. The cooler just needs to fit inside your freezer. Go to How to Make Clear Ice.
  • Use a clear ice maker. We use this clear ice maker and it works well! It also fits easily into your freezer.
Oaxacan Old Fashioned

More mezcal cocktails

The Oaxaca Old Fashioned is one of our top Mezcal cocktails: but there are lots of great Mezcal drinks. Here are a few to try:

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Oaxacan Old Fashioned

Oaxaca Old Fashioned (with Mezcal)


Description

The Oaxacan Old Fashioned (aka Mezcal Old Fashioned) is the perfect union of mezcal with tequila, agave and bitters. A must try for mezcal lovers!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ½ ounces tequila reposado
  • ½ ounce mezcal
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
  • 3 dashes chocolate bitters (or substitute Angostura bitters)
  • Large ice cube (make clear ice!)
  • Orange peel, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Stir the tequila, mezcal, agave syrup, and bitters in a lowball glass. Add a large clear ice cube.
  2. Express the orange peel onto the glass by squeezing it to release the oils. Or if desired, flame the orange peel (taking fire precautions as necessary!): Cut a piece of orange peel in a 2-inch circle. Hold the peel about 2 inches from the cocktail glass and warm it with a lit match. Then, quickly squeeze the peel to express the oils, causing it to flame briefly as the oil hits the glass.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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