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.
To help unfold the full potential of the base spirit, sugar and cocktail bitters are added to the mix. The type of sugar and also the choice of bitters depend 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.
Which Mezcal works best?
There are many Mezcal options that make a great Mezcal Old Fashioned. Typically, Joven Mezcals works nicely, but I 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. You'll love it even more when making an Old Fashioned with it.
If you need recommendations because you are new to Mezcal, here are some of our favorites 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 in a tahona, and distilled in classic copper stills. This Mezcal is very fruity in taste. Besides the typical smokiness, you can taste banana, pineapple, and a hint 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 a bit of a hint of smoke.
The Santa Pedrera is a great Mezcal to sip neat but unfolds its full range of flavors in combination with 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
Espiritu Lauro Joven is a bit different from the first two recommendations. This Mezcal has less fruity notes and shines through its subtle citrus, grass, and mineral notes. Although it feels pretty smooth and light, the flavors in the spirit are complex.
Which cocktail bitters for Mezcal Old Fashioned
Your regular Bourbon or Rye Old Fashioned often is spiced with Angostura bitters. You can experiment with other cocktail bitters like orange or chocolate. Still, Angostura works sensational with Whiskey.
For a Mezcal-based Old Fashioned, though, I prefer chocolate or orange bitters instead. Angostura also work great, but chocolate or orange work better with the Mezcal base.
There's one type of bitters, in particular, I want to recommend for this Mezcal cocktail: 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. They also work well with all kinds of 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. Alternatively, you can use regular simple syrup, as well. Both works great for our Mezcal Old Fashioned, although I recommend something else:
One option would be agave nectar, if at hand, as it enhances the agave flavor from the spirit. The second option, and my favorite, is Demerara syrup.
You can easily make Demerara syrup at home. It's richer and adds more flavor to your drink. Exactly what you need when you use a bold spirit like Mezcal. Still, even a simple recipe like syrup takes extra time. So only opt for it, if you're sure you have the time.
Mezcal Old Fashioned vs. Oaxaca Old Fashioned
People often confuse a classic Mezcal Old Fashioned with the Oaxaca Old Fashioned. To demystify the puzzle, I'll quickly explain the difference between the two cocktails.
The Mezcal Old Fashioned is a standard riff on the classic Old Fashioned recipe. You replace one base spirit for another and slightly adjusting the complements. In this case, Mezcal accounts for 100% of the base.
The Oaxaca Old Fashioned, on the other hand, is based on 75% aged Tequila and only 25% Mezcal. Phil Ward invented this cocktail in 2007 to introduce Mezcal to his guests at the Death & Co Bar in New York City. -And the spirit base is not the only difference.
- 2 oz Santa Pedrera Mezcal
- 0.25 oz Demerara syrup
- 4 drops Xocolatl mole bitters
- 1 Orange peel (for garnish)
- Add Mezcal, Sirup, and bitters into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.2 oz Santa Pedrera Mezcal, 0.25 oz Demerara syrup, 4 drops Xocolatl mole bitters
- Stir for about 18 - 20 seconds (about 50 rounds) until the drink is well-chilled and the Mezcal slightly diluted.
- Strain the drink with your Hawthorne strainer over a fresh, large ice cube into an Old Fashioned glas.
- Garnish the drink with an orange peel.1 Orange peel
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