Smoky Oaxacan Old-Fashioned Recipe for a Taste of Mexico

With the smoky, earthy flavors of mezcal & tequila, this old-fashioned is a tasty take on the classic.

Updated March 3, 2024
Oaxacan Old-Fashioned

Step into the city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico with a cocktail that has some soulful depth. While a traditional old-fashioned has bourbon at its core, this Oaxacan old-fashioned has the smokey, complex, and sultry mezcal at its heart. Mezcal gets its signature smokey flavor from its production process that includes cooking over wood and charcoal in the earth, a step tequila skips. 

How to Make an Oaxacan Old-Fashioned 

Born in 2007 in the heart of New York City, a famous cocktail bar called Death & Co thought of this tasty concoction. This old-fashioned riff gets its name from the mezcal spirit at its core and the Mexican state from which most mezcal comes. Although named for the mezcal, the recipe also calls for tequila to help wary drinkers leap into the unknown, according to the bartender, Phil Ward.


  • 1¼ ounces reposado tequila
  • ¾ ounce mezcal
  • ¼ ounce agave
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Ice
  • Two orange peels for garnish


  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, reposado tequila, mezcal, agave, and bitters.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Express one orange peel over the drink by twisting the peel between your fingers, then run the colorful side of the peel along the rim.
  5. Garnish with a second orange peel, first expressing over the glass before dropping it into the drink.
Fast Fact

Once a rarity, mezcal cocktails and the mezcal spirit itself have finally started to fly off of the bar and into the hands of eager patrons. You'd be hard-pressed to find a cocktail bar, or just about any average bar, without a single mezcal cocktail. Even whiskey bars have started to feature its cousin, the mezcal old-fashioned.

Simple Variations 

While there's not much available so far as swapping around ingredients, you can still play around with the flavors.

  • Experiment with different ratios of tequila to mezcal, aiming to keep approximately a 2-ounce total.
  • If you don't have agave on hand, you can use honey, or if you want to keep it closer to a traditional old-fashioned, you can also use simple syrup.
  • Opt for añejo instead of reposado, but avoid silver tequila, as its tropical flavors don't quite fit the flavors of this old-fashioned riff.
  • Skip the orange bitters in favor of lime or black walnut bitters.

Related: Making an Old-Fashioned With Añejo Tequila

5 Old-Fashioned Garnishes

If the orange peel garnish doesn't speak to your old-fashioned heart, consider a few others.

  • Flame the orange peel for a deeper smoke and citrus flavor.
  • Use a dehydrated citrus wheel or slice for a modern look, such as an orange, lemon, or lime.
  • Use a cocktail cherry for a more luxurious, traditional old-fashioned flair.
  • Cut the orange peel into shapes, such as a star, sphere, or diamond.
  • Two garnishes together create an elegant look; a few combinations to consider are a lemon ribbon with an orange wheel or a cocktail cherry with a dehydrated orange slice.

Make Mine Smoky

Skip the smoking gun or premium price for a smoked old-fashioned and choose a mezcal old-fashioned instead. It's quick build, and mixing time aside, step away from the smoking gun and appreciate the easy and flameless things in life.

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Smoky Oaxacan Old-Fashioned Recipe for a Taste of Mexico