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Using Mezcal in an Old Fashioned cocktail format is an excellent way to showcase the spirit, especially if you have a nice bottle of Mezcal.
By Old Fashioned format, I mean 1 part any spirit of your choice, some sweetener, and bitters—served on the rocks.
If you have a great bottle of Mezcal, you'll want only to drink it neat (especially since it was expensive). However, there are Mezcal cocktail recipes you can make that still do great service to the Mezcal with ingredients that complement, enhance, and showcase the Mezcal in a different and beautiful light.
A few notes on the recipe
In this Mezcal Old Fashioned recipe, the Mezcal is the start of the show—It's the sole carrier of the team. I've tasted about 20ish different Mezcal, and so far, my everyday go-to has been Banhez Espadin & Barril. It's a subtle but confident mezcal—floral, fruity, and sweet. Very gentle on the smoke. Great flavor for a great price. Great on cocktails and also fantastic on its own.
The light agave nectar syrup helps give the cocktail body (silky mouthfeel) and help carry the flavors. Stick to a light syrup as opposed to raw, since you run the risk of muddling the high notes of your Mezcal.
The bitters you use are extremely important since it will add a spark of extra flavor to the cocktail. In this recipe, I use one dash of Corazon bitters from Bittercube that will add notes of coffee, chocolate, oregano, and a bit of spice. One dash, and one dash only. Less is more. If you don't have any on hand, Angostura bitters is a good substitute—you probably already have it in had or easier to find.
The finishing touch for this Mezcal Old Fashioned—the rug that ties the room together—is the caramelized orange oils.
Let's do this.
If you're using an ice rock, you can assemble the drink in the rocks glass. This will be more practical with slightly less cleanup.
In a rocks class, add the bitters, mezcal and one barspoon of agave nectar—in this specific order. (I'm using Ilegal Mezcal joven here, the Corona virus shut down my Banhez supplier.)
Gently add your ice rock.
Stir the ice rock to get some dilution. Any agave sticking to the barspoon will dissolve into the drink.
Slice off an orange peel, express the oils in towards a flame—towards your cocktail.
Trim and twist the orange peel and garnish.