Oaxaca Cocktail Recipe

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Oaxaca Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Oaxaca cocktail, also known as the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, was created by Phil Ward at Death & Co. in New York City. It is a modern twist on the classic Old Fashioned, incorporating the flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico. This cocktail is perfect for those who enjoy the smoky flavor of mezcal and the sweetness of agave nectar.

  • Origin: Death & Co., New York City
  • Creator: Phil Ward
  • Inspired by the flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico

How Oaxaca Tastes?

The Oaxaca cocktail is a complex and well-balanced drink with a smoky, sweet, and slightly bitter taste. It has a rich and velvety texture, with a hint of spice and a lingering warmth.

Interesting facts about Oaxaca

  • The name 'Oaxaca' comes from the region in Mexico known for producing high-quality mezcal.
  • The Oaxaca Old Fashioned is considered a modern classic and has inspired many variations.
  • This cocktail showcases the versatility of mezcal, which can be used in both classic and contemporary cocktails.



A soulful spirit with a smoky hint that provides a robust backbone to the cocktail. Use 2oz to not overpower other flavors. Less smoke, more joke? Nope, it’s key here! Skip it and you'll lose the Oaxaca vibe. Swap with more tequila for a less smoky drink.

Mary Mitkina

Añejo Tequila

Aged and nuanced, the 0.5oz of añejo tequila adds depth without stealing the show. It’s like adding a dash of wisdom to youthful exuberance. Too much and you'll overage it, too little and you miss the complex notes. Bourbon could be an alternative, changing the profile to more vanilla and oak.

Alex Green

Agave Nectar

Sweet but not cloying, 1tsp rounds out the edges. Too much sweetness and we're in candy land, too little and the cocktail may be too harsh. Without it, the balance crumbles. Honey could be a substitute, offering a floral twist.

Emma Rose

Angostura Bitters

The cocktail’s spice rack in 2 dashes – a little goes a long way in adding complexity. Like a pinch of salt in a stew, omitting bitters would leave the drink feeling one-dimensional. No Angostura? Try orange bitters for a citrus kick.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Peel

The twist of citrus oils from 1 peel brightens and contrasts the dense flavors. Without it, you’d miss that zesty greeting. It’s the smile of the cocktail! Other citrus peels work too, but the bitter-sweet orange peel is the classic choice.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Oaxaca Drink

  1. In a mixing glass, combine the mezcal, añejo tequila, agave nectar, and Angostura bitters.
  2. Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
  3. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass filled with a large ice cube.
  4. Express the orange peel over the cocktail, then discard or use as garnish.

Pro Tips

  • Use a high-quality mezcal for the best flavor.
  • Chill the glass before pouring the cocktail to keep it cold longer.
  • Express the orange peel over the cocktail to enhance the citrus aroma.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Grilled Meats: The smokiness of the mezcal complements the charred flavors of grilled steak or barbecue ribs.
  • Seafood: Try it with ceviche or grilled shrimp to balance the citrus and smoky notes.
  • Mexican Dishes: It's a natural partner for Mexican favorites like tacos al pastor or mole poblano.
  • Cheese: Enjoy with aged cheeses, such as cheddar or gouda, to match the cocktail's richness.

Drink Pairings

  • Sparkling Water: To cleanse the palate between sips.
  • Light Beers: A crisp pilsner can contrast the cocktail's robust flavors.

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What you could change in Oaxaca

  • Mezcal: Can be replaced with a smoky Scotch.
  • Añejo tequila: Can be replaced with a reposado or blanco tequila.
  • Agave nectar: Can be replaced with simple syrup or honey.

Explore all drinks starting with O here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Pineapple Oaxaca

Swap agave nectar for pineapple syrup. The tropical notes will dance with the smoke, taking you from Oaxaca to a beach bonfire.

Spicy Oaxaca Margarita

Add a slice of jalapeño to the mix and rim the glass with chili salt. The heat will add a kick that makes you crave for a siesta under the sun.

Oaxaca Old Fashioned

Replace the agave nectar with a small cube of piloncillo (raw sugar) and a splash of water. Muddle with Angostura bitters before adding the spirits for an old-school twist with a Mexican touch.

In case you forgot basics how to make Oaxaca

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Oaxaca

What is the proper way to sip a cocktail like Oaxaca?

The Oaxaca cocktail is best savored slowly, taking time to enjoy the complex flavors and the aroma. Take small sips and let it rest on your palate to experience the smoky mezcal and sweet agave nectar.

Can I drink the Oaxaca cocktail without any garnish?

Yes, you can. The garnish in this cocktail, the orange peel, provides an enhanced citrus aroma, but the cocktail can still be enjoyed without it.

Are cocktails like Oaxaca suitable for vegans and vegetarians?

Yes, the ingredients in the Oaxaca cocktail are devoid of any animal products making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Is it recommended to pair the Oaxaca cocktail with food?

Cocktails like Oaxaca can be paired with a variety of foods, especially Mexican dishes that complement the flavors of the drink, such as tacos or tamales. However, individual preferences vary widely.

What occasion is the Oaxaca cocktail best suited for?

The Oaxaca cocktail is versatile and can be enjoyed on a variety of occasions. Its complexity and uniqueness make it a great choice for cocktail parties and special celebrations.

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