The Old Fashioned is as traditional a cocktail as you can get, with a straightforward mix of spirit, sugar and bitters. That simplicity allows for a lot of variety in play, leading to countless variations on the tried-and-true recipe.
One such variation comes from Cody Pruitt, the beverage director at New York City’s Anfora, a wine and cocktail bar in the West Village. However, rather than the more expected base ingredients like bourbon or even rum, Pruitt uses something a little more unconventional—two types of agave spirits, with mezcal and reposado tequila acting as a mixed base.
Pruitt uses a blend of Los Amantes joven mezcal and Espolón reposado tequila for the Marzipan Old Fashioned. The “joven” in the mezcal refers to the fact that it, like many mezcals on the market, is un-aged, leaving it clear and bright. If substituting another mezcal you may have on hand, be sure to use another clear version. Similarly, the tequila is a reposado from Espolón, which means it’s been aged for less than a year, leaving it with a pale gold color. While Espolón is a fairly popular brand for bartenders for its price point and quality, it too can be switched out as long as its replacement is both of decent quality and a reposado.
Equally significant to the craft of the Marzipan Old Fashioned is the ingredient that gives it its name: rather than using the traditional simple syrup (a mix of sugar and water), Pruitt melts De La Rosa peanut marzipan candies into a marzipan syrup for the drink. Like the two spirits, this sweet treat comes from Mexico and has a strong history of over 70 years of candy production. Luckily, these classic Mexican peanut candies are available regularly throughout the United States, as well as for purchase online.
To make the sweetener, Pruitt simmers the candies with water until the peanuts separate from the candy and the marzipan incorporates with the water, turning into a syrup. It will still have some nuttiness from the candies, and a touch of oloroso sherry further enhances it while also giving the drink some increased complexity, salinity and richness. In particular, Pruitt uses Lustau, a popular sherry brand among bartenders for its high quality and relatively low cost.
- 1 ounce Los Amantes joven mezcal
- 3/4 ounce Espolón reposado tequila
- 1/4 ounce Lustau oloroso sherry
- 1/4 ounce marzipan syrup*
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir.
Strain into a double rocks glass over a large ice cube.
*Marzipan syrup: simmer 3 cups crushed De La Rosa peanut marzipan candies and 3 cups water until the sugar is dissolved and only the peanut pieces are left floating. Strain through a chinois and bottle. Keeps for up to 6 days refrigerated.