There are the classics, and then there are, well, seemingly endless variations thereof. If you think about it, most drinks today are an evolution of another in some way, shape or form, each of which falls into one of the classic cocktail families (think sours, daisies, Martinis, Manhattans and the like). The beauty of this system is that it provides a comprehensive blueprint for making drinks without constraining creativity, and bartenders are living proof that there’s no shortage of innovation in their line of work.
Industry veteran Jacques Bezuidenhout, who also sits on the Liquor.com advisory board, takes the classic Old Fashioned and turns it on its head with his Spiced Old Fashioned recipe, which uses tequila as the base spirit and kicks things up a notch with layers of serious heat. For him, it’s second nature to find harmony between the tried and true classics and his personal love affair with tequila, and this drink is the ultimate representation of the magic that can happen when bartenders think outside the box, which is the primary contributor to the continued evolution of the industry. According to Detroit bartender John S. Neely, the classics are always reliable templates for cocktail experimentation, and for good reason. “Classic recipes are so interchangeable with the seasons, [so] it’s very easy way to keep things new and fresh,” he shares. “You can play with some many different flavor pairings between syrups, bitters and spirits.”
When it comes to adding spice to a drink, it’s important to keep balance in mind as you build, whether you’re using fresh ingredients, preserves, tinctures, syrups, bitters or infusions. Bezuidenhout has done the legwork here with this recipe, but you’ll likely be inspired to forge your own path deeper into the world of spicy cocktails, in which case you'll want to take things slow—a good rule of thumb to follow is increasing heat levels by adding spicy ingredients little by little, because it’s much easier to continue adding than it is to take away if you find that you’ve gone too far. This how-to video, guided by Beziudenhout himself, is the perfect primer for any foray into both riffing on classics and working with spicy ingredients, so give it a watch before diving in. And remember: as timeless historical emblems, the classics are classic for a reason, but every recipe is ripe for the riffing.
Watch Now: How to Make a Spiced Old Fashioned
- 2 tsp Maple syrup
- 2 slices Fresno chile
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 oz Partida añejo tequila
- Garnish: orange twist
- Garnish: Fresno chile slice
In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle the maple syrup, chile and bitters.
Add the tequila and fill with ice.
Stir, and garnish with an orange twist and another slice of Fresno chile.