The Story Behind The Oaxaca Old Fashioned
A little smoky and a little sweet, the Oaxaca Old Fashioned is a darling of the cocktail renaissance that helped solidify agave spirits as a mainstay in modern cocktail culture.
This riff on one of the world’s most popular cocktails was first created in 2007 by Phil Ward at Death & Co., an iconic bar in NYC’s East Village. Following the formula of many Death & Co. favorites, Ward used the composition of a classic, tried and true cocktail, but tweaked it to highlight new and interesting spirits. As Ward recalls, “The Oaxaca was invented in my favorite time of Death & Co. I feel like it was one big cocktail lab with a slew of guinea pigs — regulars — who would anxiously await the new works in progress every visit.” In his final version of the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, Ward brilliantly combined both reposado tequila and mezcal, imparting a round and balanced finish to this potent drink.
Fans of the cocktail have created their own variations over the years with mole and chocolate bitters, but we like how the Angostura bitters keep the drink rooted in its pre-Prohibition inspiration. Those brave enough to try their hand at the official garnish — a flamed orange twist — will be rewarded with an extra touch of citrusy smokiness courtesy of the orange peel’s scorched essential oils. Not to mention, this step creates a visually dazzling burst of fire, so perform it with care.