Traditionally an Old Fashioned is made with Whiskey. In the US, you usually find Bourbon and Rye Old Fashioneds on bar menus. But you can make a perfect Old Fashioned with almost any type of liquor. Today, there are plenty of riffs like Rum Old Fashioneds, Gin Old Fashioneds, Brandy Old Fashioneds, and Mezcal Old Fashioneds.
The template to make this simple yet elegant cocktail always stays the same. Any Old Fashioned heavily relies on its base spirit. It's the heart and soul of the drink. And to help unfold the full potential of the base spirit, sugar and cocktail bitters are added to the mix. The type of sugar and bitters depends on the liquor used in the recipe.
The classic Old Fashioned asks for a sugar cube or simple syrup and Angostura cocktail bitters. The recipe for our Mezcal Old Fashioned is a little different, though. Hang on and find out how to make a terrific Mezcal Old Fashioned.
Mezcal Old Fashioned vs. Oaxaca Old Fashioned
People often confuse a classic Mezcal Old Fashioned with the Oaxaca Old Fashioned. To clarify the puzzle once and for all, I'll quickly explain the difference between the two cocktails.
The Mezcal Old Fashioned is a typical riff on the classic Old Fashioned recipe. By replacing the base spirit and adjusting the complements, you get a different and more smoky drink. And in this case, Mezcal accounts for 100% of the spirit base.
The Oaxaca Old Fashioned, on the other side, is based on 75% aged Tequila and only 25% Mezcal. In 2007, Phil Ward invented this cocktail while working at Death & Co bar in New York City. And despite people often mixing up both terms, they are not the same at all -Also, because that is only the most striking difference. There are even more things to consider when making a delicious Oaxaca Old Fashioned.
Which Mezcal to use in a Mezcal Old Fashioned
There are plenty of Mezcal options to choose from to make a great Mezcal Old Fashioned. Typically, Joven Mezcals works nicely, but I would recommend experimenting a little with the different styles of Mezcal to find the one you like best in an Old Fashioned. As a rule of thumb for any Old Fashioned, pick a spirit you love to drink neat. The chances are high that you're going to love it even more when making an Old Fashioned with it.
And as you came for some recommendations, especially if you don't have a favorite Mezcal yet, here's our list of the best Mezcals for a Mezcal Old Fashioned.
Origin: Oaxaca, Mexico
Taste: Mild, peppery, and with notes of tropical fruit
Banhez Mezcal is produced using traditional techniques. The agave is roasted in earthen pits, ground by a mule-powered tahona, and distilled in classic copper stills.
This Mezcal is very fruity in taste. Besides the typical smokiness from Mezcal, you can taste banana, pineapple, and also hints of guava.
Santa Pedrera Mezcal
Origin: Oaxaca, Mexico
Taste: Sweet, grassy, and tropical fruit
Santa Pedrera is another Joven style Mezcal that works great in an Old Fashioned. It's smooth and delicately smoky with lots of fruity and floral aromas. The finish is long and sweet with just enough hints of smoke.
The Santa Pedrera is great Mezcal to sip neat that unfolds its full range of flavors in combination with the matching syrup and bitters. An insider tip for an exquisite Mezcal Old Fashioned.
Espiritu Lauro Joven Mezcal
Origin: Oaxaca, Mexico
Taste: Subtle notes of citrus, grass, minerals, and slightly smoky
Which cocktail bitters for Mezcal Old Fashioned
Your typical Bourbon or Rye Old Fashioned often is flavored with Angostura bitters. And while you can experiment with other cocktail bitters like orange bitters or chocolate bitters, Angostura works brilliantly with Whiskey.
For a Mezcal-based Old Fashioned, you could also opt for one of the three options above. Angostura bitters work great, but chocolate or orange is pleasant, too, depending on your base Mezcal.
And then there's one type of bitters I would highly recommend using when making this Mezcal cocktail. And those are Xocolatl mole bitters. Those bitters not only bring notes of chocolate into your cocktail but also spice it up with some cinnamon and other spices. It's such a perfect choice to use with Mexican spirits like Tequila, Mezcal, or Sotol.
Syrup to use in Mezcal Old Fashioned
Traditionally, an Old Fashioned is sweetened with a sugar cube mixed with water. But alternatively, you can use a regular simple syrup.
For our Mezcal Old Fashioned, I recommend something else. One option would be agave nectar to enhance the agave flavor in the cocktail. The second option, and my preferred one, is using Demerara syrup. You can easily make Demerara syrup at home using Demerara sugar. It's richer and adds more flavor to your drink. Exactly what you need when you use a bold spirit like Mezcal as the base of your Old Fashioned.
- 2 oz Santa Pedrera Mezcal
- 0.25 oz Demerara syrup
- 4 drops Xocolatl mole bitters
- 1 Orange peel (for garnish)
- Add Mezcal to a Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube and stir to chill.
- Add Demerara syrup, Xocolatl mole bitters, and stir again until the drink is well-chilled.
- Garnish the drink with an orange peel.