There are many ways to tinker with classic drinks, but unfortunately not all or even most of these adaptations are good (mango mojito, anyone?). Here's a relative newcomer that more than makes up for so many lackluster takes on classics: the Oaxaca Old Fashioned.
Developed by New York barman Phil Ward a few years back while managing the bar at Death & Company (Ward is now at the agave-oriented Mayahuel), the Oaxaca Old Fashioned takes one of the central, and, if I may say, greatest drinks in mixology and gives it a south-of-the-border spin. The result is a drink that is simple yet elaborate, with the sparky mellowness of reposado tequila accented by the ethereal smokiness of mezcal, with traces of spice and chocolate dancing around the edges.
What with all the recent mezcal discussions that have been taking place hereand in the New York Times, the Oaxaca Old Fashioned is a fantastic way to get started at the mezcal well.
(One note on ingredients: when the New York Times first ran this recipe in 2007, they called for Angostura bitters. The drink is better, and properly made, with Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters, which were unavailable commercially at the time the article came out, but were in use at Death & Company; Bittermens is now available in select stores and for online purchase, and while Angostura will get you there in this drink, you should really check out the mole bitters for the full experience of deliciousness.)
- 1 1/2 ounces reposado tequila (El Tesoro recommended)
- 1/2 ounce mezcal (Los Amantes Joven recommended)
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 to 2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters (substitute Angostura)
- Wide swath of orange zest, for garnish
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir to chill, then strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass. Twist orange peel over drink and use as garnish (for extra flavor and excitement, flame the peel by spraying the orange oil through the flame of a lit match and on top of the drink)