How to Make a Tequila Old-Fashioned

Forget the sour mix and salt rim! In a tequila old-fashioned, the flavor of aged tequila really gets to shine.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

The old-fashioned is one of the classic cocktails that has seen a major revival in the last few years. It’s a simple but classy sipper, with minimal ingredients that showcase the flavor of the spirits. If you love this mixed drink, then you know that old-fashioneds are usually made with whiskey or bourbon. But have you ever sipped a tequila old-fashioned?

What Is a Tequila Old-Fashioned?

It’s an old-fashioned made with tequila instead of bourbon, brandy or other traditional spirits. (Yes, a Wisconsin old-fashioned is made with brandy.) It’s blended with bitters and agave syrup for sweetness, then served over ice with a twist of orange zest.

The type of tequila you use is really important here. Because an old-fashioned is all about savoring the flavor of the liquor, the best type of tequila to use is añejo.

The Different Types of Tequila

All tequila is fermented from agave, succulent plants native to Mexico. Tequilas are categorized based on how long they’re aged before being bottled and sold.

  • Blanco (or silver) tequila is very young with little to no aging. It’s clear with a sweet but sharp, even harsh, taste and is the go-to variety for margaritas and other mixed drinks with lots of juices and other mixers blended in.
  • Reposado tequila is aged in barrels from a few months up to one year. It has a light gold color and a more mellow flavor that includes woody notes from the barrel. It can be used in drinks calling for blanco tequila but will give them more flavor.
  • Añejo tequila requires a minimum of one year of barrel aging. The result is a smooth amber tequila with flavors of caramel, vanilla, flowers and wood. It’s quite a different taste experience than blanco tequila and should be enjoyed in cocktails that won’t hide the warm, rich flavor. Añejo is the best choice for a slow-sipping old-fashioned.

How to Make an Old-Fashioned with Tequila

ingredients for Tequila Old FashionedNancy Mock for Taste of Home

This recipe makes one drink. Look for tequilas labeled “añejo,” which will have a light amber color, and are a little more expensive as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 small orange
  • 2 ounces añejo tequila
  • 2 teaspoons blue agave syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Optional: cocktail cherry

Tools You’ll Need

  • Rocks Glass: This is the proper glass for an old-fashioned, as well as cocktails like sazeracs, white Russians and other drinks served neat.
  • Jigger: It’s a cool tool used by bartenders—this one has convenient measurement markings to get just the right amount of booze.
  • Silicone Ice Cube Mold: Large cubes or spheres look sophisticated in cocktails and are also slower to melt.

See all of the must-have types of cocktail glasses for home mixologists.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the orange garnish

Use a small paring knife to slice off a piece of orange peel, about 3 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. Run the paring knife between the pith and the peel, leaving a very thin layer of white: just enough so the peel will keep its shape once twisted.

Slice down each long side of the peel to make straight edges, and cut the ends at an angle.

Step 2: Add the drink ingredients to a glass

ingredients for Tequila Old FashionedNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Add the añejo tequila, agave syrup and bitters to a rocks or lowball glass, and stir them together. Place one or two ice cubes in the glass and stir the drink again.

Step 3: Finally, the orange zest

squeezing orange peel into a glass with ice for a Tequila Old FashionedNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Hold the orange peel you prepared over the top of the glass. Twist the ends in opposite directions. If you watch closely, you’ll see a light mist of orange oils shower into the drink. Then, drop the orange peel into the glass. Your tequila old-fashioned is ready to sip.

How to Garnish a Tequila Old-Fashioned

An orange peel twisted over the drink to express the oils is the classic garnish for tequila old-fashioneds—I like to add the peel into the drink, but it can also be left out for a more subtle orange flavor. A cocktail cherry is also a tasty and pretty garnish, one that works well with the flavor of the aged tequila. Use Luxardo cherries or cherries that are preserved in brandy or whiskey.

How to Make a Smoky Tequila Old-Fashioned

Tequila Old FashionedNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Chef and Frontera Grill restaurateur Rick Bayless gives his tequila old-fashioned a hint of smoky flavor with mild ancho chiles. To make it, soak a dried ancho chile in warm water until it’s soft. Slice open the chile, remove the seeds, then cut off a small piece. Add the chile piece to the glass just before the ice, muddling the pepper a little with the spoon to release its flavor. Add in the ice, stir and serve.

Nancy Mock
Nancy has shared her home cooking and baked goods with loved ones her entire life. Taking inspiration from her northeastern roots and Irish heritage, she shares her comfort food recipes on her site Hungry Enough to Eat Six. An expert in New England cuisine, Nancy enjoys delving into food history, viral recipes and regional dishes. Since becoming a Taste of Home contributor, she’s written about Fluffernutter sandwiches (a New England classic), re-created vintage Betty Crocker recipes, shared how to make “marry me chicken” and much more. When she’s not whipping up developing new recipes or testing cooking techniques, she loves finding vintage cookbooks from the last century to add to her growing collection.