How about a tequila old fashioned? Our 3rd Quarantine Old Fashioned is an homage to all those non-whiskey drinkers out there who love the idea of an old fashioned but not the brown spirit traditionally used as its base. (Previous Quarantine Old Fashioneds here and here)
Hold on a second before you whiskey lovers berate me.
Originally, the old fashioned just had an unaged spirit in it, not the bourbon and whiskey we treasure today. So, really, any spirit, even an agave spirit can make an interesting old fashioned. For this riff, we’ll use reposado tequila and a little mezcal if you want to add a bit of smoke to it. And instead of using just orange bitters, I wanted to use the mole-flavored bitters from Bittermen’s because they sing with the tequila and mezcal theme.
While some taco trucks can offer margaritas, on a really hot day, I’d rather have a cold old fashioned to sip on in the summer when the heat is a little crazy. To that end, I’ve named it the Taco Truck Old Fashioned.
When working on this cocktail I discovered a few things. First is that this mouthfeel will be very different from a whiskey old fashioned. Because tequila lights up different parts of the palate this will necessarily taste markedly different. Secondly, I first tried the cocktail with a regular simple syrup, but it really needed the additional coating properties that you find in thicker agave syrups. Using a raw agave spirit gave the drink more character and some earthiness and complexity that wasn’t present with a basic simple syrup.
While deciding on bitters, simple orange bitters wasn’t enough, the mole bitters from Bittermen’s enhanced the earthiness and subtle vegetal flavors you find in tequila that you don’t with whiskey. But, it also tied all the elements together in a way that balanced them.
I will say that if you don’t like smoked cocktails, leave out the mezcal. If you’re not used it, you’ll think your cocktail’s been contaminated. However, if you like the taste of light smoke and a little earthiness, toss that mezcal in there because it makes this a truly unique take on an old fashioned. If you love smokey, peaty drinks, use a very smokey mezcal or add a little more to the cocktail.
Taco Truck Old Fashioned
- 2 oz tequila reposado if you have it
- ½ oz mezcal Note – this adds a lot of smokiness to the drink. If you prefer not to use it simply use that amount of the tequila above. However, the smoke really pulls outs some lovely barrel notes from the spirits.
- 1/4 oz raw agave nectar
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 8 drops Bittermen’s Xocolotl Mole bitters
- Garnish: Rim a glass with smoked salt or spicy salt – similar to what you would use for a high-end margarita. If you’d rather not it’s lovely with a single expressed orange peel.
- Prepare the old fashioned glass if you’re going to rim it with spices and salt. Use an orange wedge to wet a section of the outside of the rim and dip the outside edge in the salt/spice. Set aside. In a mixing glass, combine the tequila, mezcal (if using) agave nectar and bitters. Add ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into the prepared glass filled with one large ice cube and garnish with an expressed orange peel. Salud!