The Oaxaca Old Fashioned: a smoky modern classic we love

Tequila and mezcal combine for this agave-fuelled riff on the classic Old Fashioned.

The Oaxaca Old Fashioned: a smoky modern classic we love

The Old Fashioned is an old drink — the clue, you see, is in the name. But its simple formulation of spirit, sugar, bitters and water is ripe for experimentation, and that’s exactly how the Oaxaca Old Fashioned came about.

No, the drink does not hail from the Oaxaca — you can pronounce that as Wahaka — in Mexico, but it does employ that region’s famous spirit: mezcal.

Made from the agave plant, mezcal is to tequila what brandy is to cognac; all tequilas are a subset of the broader agave spirit category that is mezcal.

The Oaxaca Old Fashioned incorporates both of these Mexican spirits. The reposado tequila gives it richness and depth, whilst the mezcal — depending on which bottling you use — will bring some aromatic, fruity notes and smoke.

It’s a simple innovation on the Old Fashioned, and an approach dubbed the Mr Potato Head theory of mixing drinks but its creator, New York bartender Phil Ward. Take a classic recipe, switch out a spirit and replace it with another one hey presto: you’ve got yourself a new drink.

The drink itself dates to some time around 2007, when Ward was working at seminal New York cocktail bar, Death & Co. Ward was also the bartender behind the influential agave spirits bar in NYC, Mayahuel, which closed in 2017.

Oaxaca Old Fashioned


  1. 45ml reposado tequila
  2. 15ml mezcal
  3. 5ml agave syrup
  4. 1 dash of Angostura aromatic bitters


  1. In a mixing glass, stir down all ingredients with ice.
  2. Strain over quality ice in a chilled Old Fashioned glass, or large rocks glass.
  3. Garnish with orange peel.