May 28, 2024
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Discovering the Oaxacan Old Fashioned: A Modern Twist on a Classic Cocktail

Discovering the Oaxacan Old Fashioned: A Modern Twist on a Classic Cocktail

In the ever-evolving world of mixology, where classic cocktails receive modern makeovers, the “Oaxacan Old Fashioned” stands out as a testament to creativity and cultural fusion. This intriguing twist on the traditional Old Fashioned introduces a smoky depth and complexity that has captivated the palates of cocktail enthusiasts worldwide. Originating from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, known for its rich culinary and spirit traditions, this cocktail combines the smoky allure of mezcal with the sweetness of agave syrup, resulting in a drink that is both robust and refined.

The Birth of a Modern Classic

The traditional Old Fashioned, a concoction of bourbon or rye whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters, has been a staple in the cocktail world since the early 19th century. Its simplicity and elegance have made it a timeless choice for many. However, with the resurgence of craft cocktails, bartenders began experimenting with different spirits and ingredients, giving birth to the Oaxacan Old Fashioned. This modern variation swaps the whiskey base for mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave plant native to Mexico. The use of mezcal introduces a smoky flavor that is distinctly different from the sweetness of bourbon, offering a unique twist on the classic.

Crafting the Oaxacan Old Fashioned

Creating a Oaxacan Old Fashioned requires a careful balance of ingredients to perfectly complement the mezcal’s smoky notes. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:


  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 1/4 oz agave syrup (adjust to taste)
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash of orange bitters
  • Orange twist, for garnish


  1. Combine Ingredients: In a mixing glass, combine the mezcal, agave syrup, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters.
  2. Stir: Add ice to the mixing glass and stir well until the mixture is chilled.
  3. Strain: Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass filled with a large ice cube.
  4. Garnish: Express the oils of an orange twist over the drink and drop it in as a garnish.

The Appeal of Mezcal

The key ingredient, mezcal, is what sets the Oaxacan Old Fashioned apart. Mezcal is traditionally made by cooking the heart of the agave plant, or piña, in earthen pits that are lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal, giving it its characteristic smoky flavor. This artisanal process, combined with the agave’s terroir, results in a spirit that is rich, complex, and deeply rooted in Mexican culture. The smokiness of mezcal paired with the sweetness of the agave syrup and the aromatic bitters creates a cocktail experience that is both bold and balanced.

A Cocktail with Cultural Significance

The Oaxacan Old Fashioned is more than just a drink; it’s a celebration of Mexican heritage and craftsmanship. By incorporating mezcal into a classic cocktail, it pays homage to the traditional methods of mezcal production and the rich biodiversity of agave in Mexico. It represents a bridge between the past and the present, introducing traditional Mexican flavors to a global audience in a contemporary and accessible way.


The Oaxacan Old Fashioned is a brilliant example of how classic cocktails can be reimagined to reflect the flavors and traditions of different cultures. It’s a drink that appeals to those who appreciate the craftsmanship behind artisanal spirits and the depth of flavor they can bring to a cocktail. Whether you’re a long-time fan of mezcal or new to the spirit, the Oaxacan Old Fashioned offers a unique and memorable way to enjoy the smoky richness of one of Mexico’s most beloved exports. So, the next time you’re looking to elevate your cocktail experience, consider reaching for a bottle of mezcal and crafting your own Oaxacan Old Fashioned.

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