The old fashioned is one of the simplest and tastiest cocktails you can make — whiskey, sugar and bitters. But, like many simple cocktails, the base formula lends itself to countless variations. One of my favorites is the añejo tequila old fashioned.
If you’re not that familiar with tequila, you might just know it from margaritas or from the terrible headaches you’ve gotten from a certain leading brand which doesn’t actually make their tequila with 100% agave.
There are actually three types of tequila. Blanco, the youngest, is great for mixing in lighter drinks like margaritas, but I don’t really like to sip it on its own. Reposado is aged up to one year, which results in a darker color and more complex flavors. Añejo (“aged” in Spanish) denotes tequilas that have been aged three to five years, and are the most nuanced and complex.
You may have also heard of mezcal, and assumed that this smokey liquor is a distant cousin of tequila. Really, mezcal is a broader category and tequila is a type of mezcal from the Tequila region of Mexico. Later this month I’ll be posting some cocktail recipes with mezcal.
But for now, back to tequila. And in particular, my favorite tequila — Herradura.
The first time I tried Herradura, I was at a Mexican restaurant that offered tequila flights. Not knowing much about tequila, I wanted to try a blanco, reposado and añejo from the same brand side by side. Herradura happened to be the only option, but it was serendipitous because I fell in love with the añejo. (You can see from the picture I’ve already done some damage on my bottle).
Because it’s oaky and nutty and almost as smooth as scotch, it’s great to sip on its own, but also adds an interesting complexity to an old fashioned.
In a traditional old fashioned made with bourbon, the corn-based spirit will add a sweet, brown sugary taste to the drink. But, since the recipe calls sugar in the form of simple syrup and whatever fruit you may add, some people spice it up with rye, which is quite literally a spicier whiskey.
Taking the drink up another notch by adding aged tequila imparts the complexity of rye, but the agave in the tequila adds an interesting vegetal quality while retaining similar characteristics of an aged whiskey, like oaky, aged caramel flavors.
añejo old fashioned
3 oz añenjo tequila, like Herradura
1/4-1/2 oz. agave nectar (to your taste)
2 drops angostura bitters
1 drop orange bitters
stir ingredients in an old fashioned glass. Add a big ice cube and garnish with an orange peel.