Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail with Mezcal

With mezcal at the forefront, the Oaxaca Old-Fashioned is a smoky and earthy cocktail you must try. This sophisticated spin on the classic cocktail is a great way to fall in love with mezcal.

A gold rimmed glass with an orange slice in it, inspired by the Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

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Oaxaca Old-Fashioned recipe

Mezcal is one of the hottest spirits on the market in the United States right now — but it’s in no way new.

However, if you’ve yet to try this smoky spirit from Mexico, you’ve got to give it a go. A mezcal cocktail such as the mezcal margarita is a great way to get to know this spirit.

And once you’ve fallen in love with mezcal, you’ve got to try an Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, named for the Mexican region of Oaxaca which is famous for its mezcal.

Old-fashioneds are spirit-forward cocktails, meaning that the base spirit takes center stage, with a few small accents to complement the flavor.

With agave nectar, molé bitters and a hint of lime, this mezcal old-fashioned is a delicious spin on the classic cocktail with a Mexican twist. If it’s on a cocktail menu, it’s definitely worth trying — but it’s easy to make yourself at home.

More old-fashioned recipes: Smoked Old-FashionedIrish Old-FashionedCoffee Old-Fashioned

A gold rimmed glass with a slice of orange on it, for an Old-Fashioned cocktail.

Why you’ll love this mezcal old-fashioned recipe

Whether you love mezcal already or you’re trying it for the first time, this mezcal cocktail is a delicious way to appreciate this Mexican spirit.

  • This cocktail is a delicious way to get to know the magic of mezcal.
  • It’s easy to make with agave syrup and your favorite mezcal.
  • Mezcal lovers will adore this twist on the classic whiskey cocktail.

This Oaxacan Old-Fashioned is perfect for happy hour, Taco Tuesday or Cinco de Mayo celebrations.  

a bottle of mezcal with limes

What is mezcal?

Mezcal is a distilled spirit from Mexico that is made from the agave plant, specifically from the root-bulb or heart of the agave plant, called pina.

Tequila, then, which comes from the blue agave plant, is a type of mezcal. Other types include sotol, bacanora and raicilla. There are over 200 species of agave that grow wildly in Mexico, but only around 50 are suitable for mezcal.

Tequila may only be made in the tequila region of Mexico, but mezcal can be produced throughout Mexico. The vegetation in the Mexican state of Oaxaca is especially well-suited to agave plants and making these agave spirits.

In Spanish, mezcal means “oven-cooked agave,” which is how the pina are cooked to extract sugars for fermenting and later distilling.

The ovens are deep stone pits made of lava rocks that are filled with wood and charcoal to burn. Mezcal is known for its smoky flavor, which it gets from cooking the pina in these pits.

A glass of gin with a slice of orange next to it, Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

Tools & glassware

The drink can be prepared in the glass, but you can also make them (or a few of them) in a mixing glass with a bar spoon. You’ll also need a jigger for measuring ingredients.

It’s traditional to serve and old-fashioned cocktail in old-fashioned glasses, also called rocks glasses.

These are short, glass tumblers. When you raise a short glass to your mouth, your nose is closer to the liquid, allowing you to breathe in the drink’s fragrance, enhancing each sip.

You might also want to create large clear ice cubes for each drink.

A glass of a cocktail with a slice of orange, Oaxaca Old-Fashioned.

Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Ingredients

Here’s what you will need to make this easy mezcal old-fashioned recipe:

  • mezcal
  • agave nectar
  • molé bitters
  • dehydrated lime
  • large ice cube

Variations & substitutions

You can try swapping out the ingredients for convenience or to make new flavors. That’s the fun of cocktail mixing with the classic old-fashioned!

  • Use tequila. Tequila is technically a type of mezcal, only it tastes cleaner and not as smoky as some mezcal varieties. A tequila old-fashioned is still perfectly delicious. Try blanco tequila for a cleaner flavor or an oaky reposado tequila for more complexity. 
  • Try simple syrup or flavored simple syrup. Agave nectar comes from the same plant as mezcal, so it makes a great choice. However, playing with flavors is always welcome in cocktail-making. Try prickly pear syrup or jalapeño syrup.
  • Play with citrus. An orange peel garnish is used in the classic old-fashioned but you can use lime or grapefruit to mix things up. Dehydrated citrus slices are a nice touch too.
  • Experiment with bitters. I used molé bitters in this drink — my favorite is the Gracias Mole Bitters by Infuse Bitters, but Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters is quite good and has a bit of chocolate flavor as well. Orange bitters and lime bitters would add notes of citrus, but chocolate bitters and spicy bitters would also be great here.

How to make a Oaxaca Old-Fashioned

Here’s how to make this Oaxacan Old-Fashioned recipe:

A person pouring an agave nectar into a glass.
A person pouring a shot of mezcal into a glass, creating a cocktail.

Grab a mixing glass and a bar spoon, or make this Oaxaca old-fashioned right in your rocks glass.

Add your agave nectar and mezcal. Stir together.

A cocktail glass with a gold spoon in it.
A person holding an ice cube in a glass while making an Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

Then lower in a large ice cube or ice ball. (Or, if using a mixing glass, pour it over the ice in a rocks glass.)

A glass being poured with an orange Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

Add a few dashes of mole bitters and garnish it with a dehydrated lime slice or a piece of orange zest. You can also add a piece of orange peel if you like.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this modern classic cocktail:

  • Add a small amount of sweetener to start, which allows you to taste the mezcal more. You can always add a little more.
  • Use a large ice cube. Because they have more surface area, they melt slower and dilute the drink less.
  • Add the bitters last, so it sits on top of the drink and the aroma is close to your nose.
A glass with ice and a bottle of whiskey for an Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

What to serve with a Mezcal Old-Fashioned

This mezcal cocktail will go well with your favorite Mexican foods.

Grab a big basket of tortilla chips to serve with appetizers like queso fundido or guacamole.

For the main dish, enjoy them with pork tacos or tortilla soup.

And for dessert, these tart margarita bars are festive and fun.

A glass with ice and a bottle of gin, garnished with Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

FAQ

What type of alcohol is mezcal?

Mezcal is a Mexican spirit made from the agave plant. It is similar to tequila; in fact, tequila is a type of mezcal. Tequila can only be made from the Blue Weber Agave plant and it has a cleaner flavor. Mezcal can be made with other types of agave and it has a smokier flavor because it is produced in stone pit ovens.

What does a Oaxaca old-fashioned taste like?

Oaxaca old-fashioneds are made with mezcal, which has a smoky, earthy and peppery flavor. They are lightly sweetened with agave nectar, flavored with aromatic bitters and garnished with a zesty piece of citrus peel.

More mezcal recipes

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

A glass with ice and a bottle of gin, garnished with Oaxaca Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

Oaxaca Old-Fashioned with Mezcal

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Try a Oaxacan Old-Fashioned, a delicious spin on the classic drink with smoky mezcal.
5 from 44 votes
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ingredients

  • 2 ounces mezcal
  • ¼ ounce agave nectar
  • 1-2 dashes mole bitters
  • 1 dehydrated lime for garnish
  • 1 large ice cube

instructions

  • To a rock glass or mixing glass, add agave nectar and mezcal. Stir together.
  • Lower in a large ice cube or ice ball. (Or, if using a mixing glass, pour it over the ice in a rocks glass.)
  • Add a few dashes of mole bitters.
  • Garnish it with a dehydrated lime or a piece of lime zest or orange zest.

notes

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:
  • Add a small amount of sweetener to start, which allows you to taste the mezcal more. You can always add a little more.
  • Use a large ice cube. Because they have more surface area, they melt slower and dilute the drink less.
  • Add the bitters last, so it sits on top of the drink and the aroma is close to your nose.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 2.5ounces Calories: 158kcal Carbohydrates: 6g Protein: 0.01g Fat: 0.03g Sodium: 1mg Potassium: 1mg Fiber: 0.01g Sugar: 5g Vitamin C: 1mg Calcium: 0.1mg Iron: 0.03mg
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