Give a classic cocktail a Mexican twist with this Tequila Old Fashioned—reposado, orange, bitters, and agave nectar combine for one memorable drink.
First, an Old Fashioned. As the name suggests, it dates back a ways, to the early 1800s in fact, when cocktails by definition were made from sugar, water, and bitters. As they now describe pretty much anything with alcohol, the Old Fashioned has maintained the status quo of yesteryear by sticking with the sugar and bitters. It also uses bourbon as its base, which is a nice segue into today’s drink: the Tequila Old Fashioned.
The Tequila Old Fashioned replaces that bourbon with tequila, a concept put into practice by bartender extraordinaire Julie Reiner in New York City in the early 2000s. We’ve done something similar with brandy to make the Brandy Old Fashioned and gone the other way by adding tequila to the Classic Martini. But the Tequila Old Fashioned merges these by adding the Mexican staple to the established sipper.
What is the Best Tequila to Use?
Tequila is made from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant. There are many kinds of tequila and, as it plays a large part in this cocktail, it’s important you get a quality one. First there is blanco (or silver) tequila, which is clear in color and light in taste. It has a crispness that mixes well with others as its taste isn’t overpowering. There’s joven (or gold), which is a mix of silver and aged tequilas. There is reposado (or rested) tequila, which is aged in oak barrels from two to 12 months. It is both smooth and complex. There are añejo (aged) and extra añejo (extra aged) tequilas as well. So, given the tequila is replacing bourbon, I would recommend at least a reposado tequila. The flavor of the oak barrels will give the Old Fashioned the subtle tastes it’s known for.
- 2 oz. reposado tequila
- 2 tsp agave nectar
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 slice orange and maraschino cherry for garnish
- 1 large ice cube
- In an Old Fashioned glass, add the agave nectar and the Angostura bitters. Muddle until well combined.
- Add tequila and ice cube and stir until well-mixed, usually about 30 seconds.
- Garnish your Tequila Old Fashioned with a slice of orange and maraschino cherry.
Tips & Tricks to Making a Perfect Tequila Old Fashioned
- If you don’t have agave syrup, you can either muddle a sugar cube as you would in a traditional old fashioned or replace the syrup with simple syrup (1:1 ratio of water and granulated sugar).
- Thirty seconds may seem like a long time to stir but the agave syrup needs that long to blend properly.
- Large ice cubes are the way to go when drinking a sipping cocktail. They last longer and won’t dilute your drink as quickly as smaller cubes will.
- I like to include a slice of orange in my tequila old fashioned. I usually rub it around the rim before dropping it in the glass.
Tequila Old Fashioned Variations
Blanco Old Fashioned: Use a silver (or blanco) tequila instead of an aged variety, it will taste crisper.
Mezcal Old Fashioned: Use mezcal instead of tequila for a smokier finish.
Aromatic Old Fashioned: Experiment with orange, chocolate, and coffee bitters instead of the usual Angostura bitters. This is a very small twist but worth a try.