Tequila Old-Fashioned Cocktail

Experience tequila in a new way with a Tequila Old-Fashioned. With an aged tequila, lime bitters and a piece of lime peel, this zesty spin on the classic bourbon cocktail is a great way to enjoy this agave spirit.

Two glasses with tequila in them and a gold spoon.

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Tequila Old-Fashioned recipe

Old-fashioned fans and margarita mavens, meet the tequila old-fashioned, a cocktail you’ll both love.

The old-fashioned is usually made with whiskey, but this type of cocktail works well with other spirits too. Tequila, especially aged tequila, makes for a lighter, zippy drink that’s still complex.

It’s a great way to get started with sipping tequila straight or diving into the world of old-fashioned cocktails.

More old-fashioned recipes: Fig Old-FashionedChocolate Old-FashionedApple Pie Old-FashionedScotch Old-Fashioned

An elegantly crafted gold rimmed glass filled with ice cubes and accompanied by a spoon, perfect for serving tequila or an old fashioned cocktail.

Why you’ll love this recipe

You’ll love this recipe, for a few reasons:

  • The tequila old-fashioned is a delicious change-up from the original whiskey version.
  • The flavor is lighter than a whiskey old-fashioned while still complex and refreshing.
  • It’s a great way to get started with sipping tequila.

Make this tequila old-fashioned in lieu of a regular old-fashioned anytime you want a serious cocktail. It is perfect for happy hour, Taco Tuesday or Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Two glasses with ice and a spoon next to them, perfect for enjoying tequila or an old fashioned cocktail.

What is an old-fashioned?

An Old-Fashioned is a classic cocktail known for its simplicity and timeless appeal. It is typically made with whiskey, often bourbon, although other variations can feature other types of whiskey, tequila or rum.

Old-fashioned cocktails are known for being spirit-forward, meaning that the majority of the cocktail is the base spirit without any mixers like sour mix or soda to mute it. This allow the rich, complex flavors and aromas of the chosen spirit to shine through.

When crafting old-fashioneds, small amounts of other flavors are added to complement the spirit. Typically this includes a hint of bitter orange zest, a sweet cocktail cherry and a few dashes of fragrant bitters. Also, sometimes a sugar cube or simple syrup is added to balance out the flavors and bring a touch of sweetness.

While this classic drink traditionally features any type of whiskey, often bourbon, this tequila old-fashioned features smooth aged tequila, lime and agave nectar.

Two tequila glasses with ice and a straw on a marble table.

Tools & glassware

An old-fashioned cocktail is usually served in a type of glass with the same name: a double old fashioned glass, which is also called a rocks glass.

These short, glass tumblers bring the drink’s aromas closer to your nose as you take a sip, allowing you to breathe in the drink’s fragrance, enhancing the flavors.

You’ll want to grab a jigger for measuring plus a mixing glass and bar spoon to mix the drink, but you can also prepare it right in the glass. You might also want to create large clear ice cubes for each drink.

Two glasses filled with tequila old fashioned, accompanied by ice and a spoon, elegantly placed on a marble table.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Aged tequila: For an old-fashioned, you’ll want to use a type of tequila with more flavor and depth than regular blanco tequila. Añejo and reposado are both types of aged tequilas. Añejo offers a stronger, more oaky flavor, while reposado is a bit lighter and smoother.
  • Agave nectar: Since this sweetener is made from the same plant as tequila, it’s a no-brainer to use agave nectar. That said, you can also use any simple syrup.
  • Lime bitters: Lime-flavored bitters add a subtle zing of citrus to this cocktail. You can also use orange bitters, Angostura bitters or any bitters you like.
  • Lime zest: Grab a vegetable peeler to zest a fresh lime. This adds extra fresh, zippy flavor. Be sure to grab as little of the white pith as possible.
  • Large ice cube: A fresh ice cube frozen in a large cube or sphere shape works best for a strong drink like this because it melts slower and doesn’t dilute your drink as quickly as many small pieces of ice would.
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An old fashioned cocktail in a glass with ice, garnished with a lime.

Best tequila for a a tequila old-fashioned

When making old-fashioneds with tequila, you don’t want to use regular silver tequila or gold tequila. You’re looking for an aged tequila, which will offer a stronger flavor with more depth and complexity.

Añejo tequila, or aged tequila, is a premium tequila that has been aged for a year or longer. It brings offers a robust, oaky flavor. Extra añejo is tequila that has been aged for longer than three years. It is smoother and richer than añejo and would work here as well.

If you prefer something a bit lighter and smoother, use a reposado tequila. It gets its name from the word for ‘rested’ in Spanish because it is aged in oak barrels for between two months and one year. The aging process gives it some of the oak’s coloration and flavor.

Another option is mezcal. Its signature smoky flavor works incredibly well. Try it in this Oaxaca old-fashioned.

Don’t miss Tequila 101 where you can learn more about which bottles to buy.

Two gold rimmed glasses filled with ice and garnished with lime zest.

Variations and substitutions

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

  • Try it with añejo or reposado tequilas: Try this recipe with any aged tequila. An aged añejo old fashioned will have extra flavors of oak and caramel, while a reposado old fashioned will be smoother and lighter. 
  • Use mezcal. Tequila is technically a type of mezcal, only it tastes cleaner and not as smoky as some mezcal varieties. A mezcal old-fashioned is a great way to step this cocktail up a notch.
  • Try simple syrup or flavored simple syrup. Agave syrup is a natural sweetener that comes from the same agave plants as mezcal, making it a great choice for any tequila drink. However, playing with flavors is always welcome in cocktail-making. Try prickly pear syrup or jalapeño syrup.
  • Play with citrus. An orange twist is used in the classic old-fashioned but I used lime to mix things up. You could also use lemon or grapefruit. Dehydrated citrus slices are a nice touch too.
  • Experiment with bitters. I used lime bitters in this drink. Orange, aromatic, spicy or Mole bitters would also be great here.

How to make a Tequila Old-Fashioned

Here’s how to make this tequila old-fashioned recipe:

A person pouring agave nectar into a mixing glass.
A person pouring tequila into a mixing glass.

In a mixing glass or right in your rocks glass, add agave nectar and tequila.

A tequila is being stirred into a mixing glass.
A golden glass with a single elegant ice cube.

Stir together with a bar spoon until combined. Next, add a large ice cube to a rocks glass.

A person pouring ice into a gold glass, preparing a tequila old fashioned.
Bitters being poured into a glass.

Then pour it into the glass over the ice cube (aim a little to the side of the ice cube). If not using a mixing glass, you can now lower in a large ice cube or ice ball.

Add a few dashes of lime bitters and garnish it with a piece of lime zest.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Add a small amount of sweetener to start — you can always add a little more.
  • Make a batch of large ice cubes or spheres the day before (or keep a stash in your freezer). The large surface area means it melts more slowly than a bunch of tiny ice cubes.
  • Use a mixing glass to combine the tequila and syrup together. Then, slowly pour them just to the side of your ice cube in your glass so as not to melt the ice.
  • Before adding it to your drink, gently twist the lime zest and rub it around the edge of the glass before dropping it in to release more of the oils into your drink.
Two glasses with tequila in them and a gold spoon.

What to serve with a Tequila Old-Fashioned

This smooth tequila cocktail will go well with your favorite Mexican foods.

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

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

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

FAQ

What tequila is best for an old-fashioned?

For an old-fashioned, you’ll want to use a tequila with more flavor and depth than regular blanco tequila. Añejo and reposado are both types of aged tequilas. Añejo offers a strong oaky flavor, while reposado is a bit lighter and smoother.

Is añejo or reposado better for a tequila old-fashioned?

What you choose depends on if you would like a stronger or milder cocktail. Añejo and reposado are two distinct varieties of aged tequila. Añejo boasts a robust flavor, while reposado offers a lighter and smoother profile. Extra añejo offers an even stronger experience, as it is aged for longer than the other two types.

More tequila cocktails

— Did you make this recipe? —

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

Two tequila old fashioned cocktails with a gold rimmed glass, ice, and lime.

Tequila Old-Fashioned

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Make a tequila old-fashioned, a twist on the classic whiskey cocktail.
5 from 1 vote
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ingredients

  • 2 ounces aged tequila such as añejo or reposado
  • ¼ ounce agave nectar
  • 2 dashes lime bitters
  • 1 piece lime zest
  • large ice cube

instructions

  • In a mixing glass (or right in your rocks glass), add agave nectar and tequila. Stir together with a bar spoon.
  • Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass. Pour the mixture over the ice cube in a rocks glass. (If you made it in the glass, carefully lower in a large ice cube or ice ball.)
  • Add a few dashes of lime bitters over top of the drink.
  • Garnish with a piece of lime zest.

notes

Añejo vs. reposado tequila
What you choose depends on if you would like a stronger or milder cocktail. Añejo and reposado are two distinct varieties of aged tequila. Añejo boasts a robust, oaky flavor, while reposado offers a lighter and smoother profile. Extra añejo offers an even stronger experience, as it is aged for longer than the other two types.
Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:
    • Add a small amount of sweetener to start — you can always add a little more.
    • Make a batch of large ice cubes or spheres the day before (or keep a stash in your freezer). The large surface area means it melts more slowly than a bunch of tiny ice cubes.
    • Use a mixing glass to combine the tequila and syrup together. Then, slowly pour them just to the side of your ice cube in your glass so as not to melt the ice.
  • Before adding it to your drink, gently twist the lime zest and rub it around the edge of the glass before dropping it in to release more of the oils into your drink.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 2.5ounces Calories: 183kcal Carbohydrates: 13g Protein: 0.5g Fat: 0.2g Saturated Fat: 0.01g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 2mg Potassium: 70mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 6g Vitamin A: 34IU Vitamin C: 21mg Calcium: 22mg Iron: 0.4mg
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