Tequila is best known for its use in classic cocktails like the Margarita and Paloma. But the agave-based spirit is a workhorse that can be consumed neat or utilized in drinks from refreshing sours to potent stirred drinks.
Consider the Old Fashioned. Made typically with bourbon or rye whiskey, it’s ripe for experimentation and still shines when featuring other base spirits, from brandy to mezcal to tequila. When tequila takes center stage, it lends its unique notes of earth, spice, and agave.
Shaken fresh-juice cocktails like the Margarita benefit from dry, earthy blanco tequila, but the Añejo Old Fashioned calls for añejo tequila, a category of tequila that describes those aged for a minimum of one year. The oak-accented spirit is more similar to whiskey—it’s often aged in former whiskey barrels—and takes on the vanilla, caramel and spice notes from the barrel while providing the roasted agave notes that tequila drinkers love. The cocktail combines aged tequila with bitters and agave nectar (rather than simple syrup or granulated sugar) and is familiar, satisfying and delicious.
This recipe comes from New York bartending vet Julie Reiner, who’s responsible for some of the city’s best cocktail bars, including Clover Club, Leyenda and the former Flatiron Lounge. She began serving the Añejo Old Fashioned at Flatiron Lounge in the aughts, helping its popularity spread across New York and then the rest of the country. Make one for yourself the next time you want to tweak your favorite cocktail or enjoy a smooth and savory nightcap.
Click Play to See This Añejo Old Fashioned Recipe Come Together
1/4 ounce agave nectar
1 dash Angostura bitters
3 ounces añejo tequila
Garnish: brandied cherry
In a mixing glass, lightly muddle the agave nectar, bitters and orange peel.
Add the tequila, then fill with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice, and garnish with a brandied cherry.
Do I Have to Use Añejo Tequila in a Tequila Old Fashioned?
While spirits in any drink can always been swapped around based on personal preference, it's highly recommended to use an aged tequila when creating a Tequila Old Fashioned. Añejo offers the most prominent notes of baking spaces, oak, and caramel, which hews closest to what you'd expect in a classic Old Fashioned profile. Reposado tequila can also work within the Old Fashioned template, but will yield a lighter drink that will usually offer a more vanilla-forward flavor profile.