Mezcal Old Fashioned: History, Recipe, Pairings, and Occasions

Mezcal Old Fashioned: History, Recipe, Pairings, and Occasions

Mezcal, a traditional Mexican spirit, dates back over 400 years. Indigenous people in Oaxaca have long used agave for both food and spirits. Spanish conquistadors introduced distillation methods, merging Old World and New World techniques to create mezcal. Now, mezcal represents the rich cultural heritage of Oaxaca and is known for its distinctive smoky flavor.

Evolution of the Old Fashioned Cocktail

The Old Fashioned cocktail, originating in the early 19th century, has evolved significantly. Initially a simple mix of sugar, water, bitters, and whiskey, bartenders in the 1860s added new ingredients like citrus peels. By the 20th century, modern versions incorporated various spirits, enhancing the cocktail’s complexity. The Mezcal Old Fashioned emerged as a popular variation, blending mezcal’s smoky notes with the classic structure of the Old Fashioned.

Key Ingredients of a Mezcal Old Fashioned

Understanding Mezcal

Mezcal, a traditional Mexican spirit, stands out for its distinctive smoky flavor. Produced mainly in Oaxaca, mezcal’s unique characteristics come from the agave plants roasted in underground pits. This process infuses the spirit with rich, earthy notes unparalleled by other liquors. For a Mezcal Old Fashioned, the smokiness of mezcal interacts with the cocktail’s other components to create a complex taste experience.

Other Essential Ingredients

A Mezcal Old Fashioned requires a few essential ingredients beyond the mezcal:

  1. Bitters: Bitters, such as Angostura or Mole bitters, introduce aromatic and spicy undertones that complement mezcal’s depth.
  2. Sugar: Sugar, in the form of a simple syrup or a sugar cube, balances the drink’s bitterness and enhances its overall flavor.
  3. Orange Twist: An orange twist adds a citrus aroma and a hint of zest, elevating the cocktail’s complexity.
  4. Ice: Ice helps chill the cocktail, diluting it slightly to achieve the perfect balance of flavors. Large ice cubes are ideal for a slower melt.

These ingredients, when combined with mezcal, produce a sophisticated Mezcal Old Fashioned, offering a bold yet harmonious taste profile.

How to Make a Mezcal Old Fashioned

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Gather Ingredients
    You need mezcal, bitters, sugar, an orange twist, and ice. Representative examples include 2 oz of mezcal, 3 dashes of bitters, and 1 sugar cube.
  2. Prepare The Glass
    Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Add bitters and a small amount of water to help dissolve the sugar.
  3. Muddle The Ingredients
    Muddle the sugar cube until it dissolves completely, creating a paste.
  4. Add Ice and Mezcal
    Fill the glass with ice cubes. Pour 2 oz of mezcal over the ice.
  5. Stir The Cocktail
    Stir the mixture gently for about 20 seconds to ensure even cooling and dilution.
  6. Garnish The Drink
    Add an orange twist to the glass. Lightly press the twist around the rim of the glass for enhanced aroma.
  • Choose Quality Mezcal
    Opt for 100% agave mezcal to ensure a premium taste experience.
  • Experiment with Bitters
    Feel free to try different types of bitters, such as chocolate or citrus, to complement the smokiness of mezcal.
  • Use Clear Ice
    Use large, clear ice cubes to slow down the dilution process, keeping your cocktail well-balanced longer.
  • Proper Muddling Technique
    Avoid over-muddling the sugar to prevent an overly sweet drink.
  • Balance Flavors
    Adjust the amount of sugar or bitters based on your preference, keeping the balance of smoky, sweet, and bitter flavors in mind.

Pairing and Serving Suggestions

Best Foods to Pair With

Pairing a Mezcal Old Fashioned involves balancing the smoky and rich flavors of mezcal. Choose foods that complement these unique characteristics. Opt for dishes that enhance the complexity of the cocktail.

  • Charcuterie Boards: Include cured meats, aged cheeses, olives, and pickles. These items offer a variety of textures and flavors that pair well with mezcal’s smokiness.
  • Grilled Meats: Serve grilled steak, pork chops, or chicken. The char and seasoning on these meats provide a harmonious match with the cocktail’s smoky profile.
  • Spicy Foods: Select tacos, enchiladas, and spicy shrimp. The heat from these dishes is balanced by the cocktail’s rich flavors.
  • Dark Chocolate: Choose dark chocolate truffles or bars. The bitterness and depth of dark chocolate enhance the mezcal’s complexity.

Occasions for a Mezcal Old Fashioned

A Mezcal Old Fashioned suits a variety of occasions, offering a sophisticated and unique drinking experience.

  • Dinner Parties: Impress guests with a cocktail that combines tradition with modern flair. Its bold flavors make it a perfect pre-dinner or after-dinner drink.
  • Celebrations: Mark special events like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. The Mezcal Old Fashioned adds a touch of elegance to any celebration.
  • Casual Gatherings: Enjoy a relaxed evening with friends. Share the cocktail’s distinctive taste while engaging in casual conversation.
  • Formal Events: Serve at weddings, corporate gatherings, and galas. Its refined profile ensures it fits well within any upscale event.

The Mezcal Old Fashioned’s versatility makes it an excellent choice for a wide range of foods and occasions, showcasing its richness and depth in various settings.


Crafting a Mezcal Old Fashioned offers a unique twist on a classic cocktail that elevates your drinking experience. By selecting quality mezcal and experimenting with different bitters, you can create a drink that’s both sophisticated and versatile. Pair it with charcuterie, grilled meats, or dark chocolate to enhance its complex flavors. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or enjoying a casual night in, the Mezcal Old Fashioned is a perfect choice to impress your guests and elevate any occasion.

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