Mezcal Old Fashioned: A Twist on a Classic

Introduction to Mezcal Old Fashioned: A Twist on a Classic

The Old Fashioned is a cocktail that has stood the test of time, earning its place as a staple in bars around the world. Its simplicity—a perfect blend of spirit, sugar, bitters, and a twist of citrus—has made it a favorite among both bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. But what happens when you take this classic formula and give it a modern twist with mezcal? You get the Mezcal Old Fashioned: a smoky, complex, and utterly captivating cocktail that brings new depth to an old favorite.

The Origins of the Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned dates back to the early 19th century and is often considered one of the first true cocktails. Originally concocted with whiskey, the drink’s minimalist approach allows the base spirit to shine, making it a true celebration of quality ingredients. Fast forward to today, and the Old Fashioned has evolved to include a variety of spirits, with mezcal emerging as a standout choice for those looking to add a smoky undertone to this timeless drink.

Introduction to Mezcal

Mezcal, often overshadowed by its more famous cousin tequila, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the agave plant. Originating from Mexico, mezcal is known for its smoky flavor profile, which is achieved through the traditional method of roasting agave hearts in underground pits. This unique process imparts a rich, smoky character that makes mezcal an exciting addition to any cocktail, especially the Old Fashioned.

Crafting the Perfect Mezcal Old Fashioned

Creating a Mezcal Old Fashioned is an art that balances the robust flavors of mezcal with the sweetness of sugar and the aromatic complexity of bitters. Here’s how you can craft the perfect Mezcal Old Fashioned at home or in a bar setting.


  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 1 sugar cube (or 1 tsp simple syrup)
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Ice (preferably a large ice cube)
  • Orange peel or twist


  1. Muddle the Sugar and Bitters: In a glass, muddle the sugar cube with a few dashes of bitters until dissolved. If using simple syrup, mix it with the bitters.
  2. Add the Mezcal: Pour the mezcal into the glass, stirring to combine with the sugar and bitten mixture.
  3. Ice It: Add a large ice cube to the glass. The slow-melting ice will keep your cocktail chilled without diluting it too quickly.
  4. Garnish: Express the oils from an orange peel over the glass and drop it in as a garnish.
  5. Serve: Enjoy your Mezcal Old Fashioned responsibly, savoring the smoky, sweet, and bitter symphony of flavors.

Recommended Mezcal Brands

For the best results, consider using these mezcal brands known for their quality and distinct flavor profiles:

  • Del Maguey Vida: Offers a balanced smoky flavor with hints of fruit and spice.
  • Montelobos Espadín: Known for its complex taste with notes of roasted agave, citrus, and minerals.
  • El Silencio Espadín: Provides a smooth, smoky experience with a touch of sweetness.

The Art of Garnishing and Serving

Presentation is key when serving a Mezcal Old Fashioned. Here are some tips to elevate your cocktail’s appearance and enhance its flavor.

Glassware and Ice

The right glassware can make a significant difference. Opt for a classic rocks glass or an Old Fashioned glass to give your cocktail an elegant look. Use a large, clear ice cube to keep your drink cool and minimize dilution.

Creative Garnishes

While an orange peel is a traditional garnish for an Old Fashioned, consider experimenting with these creative ideas:

  • Smoked Rosemary Sprig: Light a rosemary sprig on fire briefly to release its aroma before placing it in the glass.
  • Dehydrated Citrus Wheel: Adds a visually striking element while enhancing the citrus notes.
  • Cinnamon Stick: Infuses the drink with warm, spicy undertones.

Pairing Mezcal Old Fashioned with Food

The Mezcal Old Fashioned’s smoky and complex flavor profile makes it a versatile companion for a variety of dishes. Here are some pairing suggestions to elevate your tasting experience.

Complementary Flavors

  • Charcuterie Board: The rich, smoky flavors of mezcal pair beautifully with cured meats and aged cheeses.
  • Grilled Shrimp Tacos: The cocktail’s smokiness complements the charred and zesty flavors of grilled shrimp.
  • Dark Chocolate: A piece of high-quality dark chocolate can enhance the nuanced flavors of the mezcal.

Recipe Suggestions

  • Spicy Guacamole: The heat and creaminess of guacamole balance well with the Mezcal Old Fashioned’s smoky notes.
  • Smoked Salmon Canapés: The smokiness of the salmon aligns perfectly with the mezcal, creating a harmonious pairing.
  • Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms: The bold flavors of chorizo and the earthy richness of mushrooms make a delightful match for this cocktail.

Exploring the Market: Mezcal Old Fashioned Variations

As the popularity of mezcal-based cocktails grows, so does the creativity in crafting variations of the Mezcal Old Fashioned. Here are some popular twists on this classic:

Smoky Mezcal Old Fashioned

Enhance the smokiness by adding a small amount of peaty Scotch whisky, creating a deeper, richer flavor.

Spicy Mezcal Old Fashioned

Add a few slices of jalapeño or a dash of chili bitters for a spicy kick that complements the smoky mezcal.

Citrus Mezcal Old Fashioned

Incorporate a splash of fresh grapefruit or lime juice to add a bright, citrusy contrast to the mezcal’s smoky undertones.

Popular Bars and Restaurants

Several bars and restaurants are renowned for their unique Mezcal Old Fashioned recipes:

  • Death & Co. (New York): Known for their exceptional mixology, offering a smoky and spicy twist on the Mezcal Old Fashioned.
  • La Mezcaleria (Vancouver): Specializes in mezcal cocktails, including innovative versions of the Mezcal Old Fashioned.
  • The Broken Shaker (Miami): Offers a tropical variation with hints of citrus and spice.

Mezcal Old Fashioned: A Trend on the Rise

The Mezcal Old Fashioned is more than just a cocktail; it’s a trend that reflects the growing fascination with mezcal and its unique flavor profile. As more people discover the versatility of mezcal, the demand for creative cocktails like the Mezcal Old Fashioned continues to rise.

Insights for Bar Owners

Bar owners looking to attract a discerning clientele should consider incorporating the Mezcal Old Fashioned into their menu. Not only does it offer a sophisticated twist on a classic, but it also appeals to those seeking new and exciting flavor experiences.

Industry Trends

According to industry experts, the rise of mezcal-based cocktails is set to continue, driven by the spirit’s artisanal appeal and complex flavors. By embracing this trend, bars can stay ahead of the curve and offer a unique selling point to their customers.

Conclusion and Call to Action

The Mezcal Old Fashioned is a testament to the versatility and depth of mezcal, bringing a modern twist to a beloved classic. Whether you’re a cocktail enthusiast, a bar owner, or a mezcal lover, this cocktail offers a unique and unforgettable tasting experience.

Try It Today!

We invite you to try making a Mezcal Old Fashioned at home or order one at your favorite bar. Share your experiences with us in the comments below and let us know your favorite mezcal brands and variations.

For more cocktail recipes, tips, and industry insights, visit our blog’s cocktail section. Cheers to new flavors and unforgettable moments!

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