Two days of fun … that’s what we’ve had with these most recent posts, exploring the fun of using a little cocktail “ketchup” in the same recipe, with two different spirits. Today, Old Fashioned’s in October highlights a drink that has become so famous (is that the right word?), so much a staple in a mixologist’s repertoire as to seem in an odd way, almost ubiquitous.
The Oaxaca Old Fashioned was created by Phil Ward, than the head bartender at NYC’s Death & Co. back in 2007 and has pretty much been a tequila-based staple in any well learned mixologist’s playbook. Aside from adorning the cocktail menus (I’m sure) of many a bar, the drink earned praise not only from major newspapers but also many a cocktail blog. There is a reason this drink has earned such accolades and in case you haven’t tried it, and I’m sure there are one or two of you left on this planet who haven’t tried it, it’s a shame because this drink really is that good. On paper it seems pretty simple but in construction and on the palate it is so much more that the sum of its parts and a great example of using the Old Fashioned template to create something all-together new.
This drink offers us two newbies if you will for exploration – we get to experiment with two types of south of the border spirits and we also get to give a brand new sweetening agent a go in this type of drink. On their own, tequila and mezcal are boldly flavorful spirits that can quickly take over a party and dominate the scene. Usually, tequila (and/or mezcal) will be matched with citrus or certain liqueurs to soften its blow, but not so in this drink. Both are paired with one another to actually tame the other. Strange as it sounds but I find when these two are mixed together in this formula they actually enhance and soften the other, with the smoky twinge of the mezcal muting the mineral, vegetal notes of the tequila and vice versa. The slightest bit of agave syrup, a natural partner for each spirit, is added to take the remaining edge off of each of the principal actors. A flamed orange peel with its toasted essential oils is like the proverbial whipped cream on top of this masterpiece.
I remember a while back stumbling across an interview on You Tube where Phil’s near devotion and love for agave-based spirits led him to say (and I’m paraphrasing) that he thinks that people need to earn the right to drink these spirits on their own, in their own natural non-mixed way. As a fiend to my beloved “water of life” I could appreciate this sentiment. Phil indicated that people gain this right by developing an appreciation for the spirit and there is no better way than by learning, experiencing them, in mixed drinks. His work at his NYC bar and restaurant Mayahuel is testament to this philosophy.
Do yourself a favor, grab the below ingredients and set about to mix one of these up now and begin to earn the right to drink these two amazing (and underappreciated) spirits.
Oaxaca Old Fashioned
Recipe created by Phil Ward while at Death & Co. in NYC and adapted by theSpeakista
• 1 1/2 oz reposado tequila (Patron Anejo was used)
• 1/2 oz mezcal (Fidencio 100% Estate Grown Agave Espadin mezcal was used)
• 1 tsp. agave nectar
• 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Garnish: flamed orange twist
Glass: rocks or old fashioned glass
Tools: mixing glass, bar-spoon and julep strainer
Assembly: Mix all of the ingredients over ice in the serving glass. Strain into the serving glass that has been filled with a large cubed ice cube. Garnish, consume and enjoy.
Thank you Phil for creating this beautifully balanced classic drink — a true expression of what an Old Fashioned can be. Tomorrow, we take a trip down Creative Lane and see what challenging inspiration was had by theSpeakista.