Oaxacan Dead


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Written By cocktailflavors.com
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Introduction to the Oaxacan Dead Cocktail

Welcome to the smoky and enigmatic world of the Oaxacan Dead, a cocktail that promises a journey through complex flavors and artisanal spirits. This mezcal-based drink is a celebration of depth and balance, combining the smokiness of mezcal with the herbal bitterness of amaro and the sweetness of vermouth. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a curious enthusiast, the Oaxacan Dead is a cocktail that stands out in any repertoire.

Originating from the vibrant culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, this cocktail is a nod to the region’s rich history in agave spirits. It’s perfect for those who appreciate a drink with a story as intriguing as its taste. Let’s dive into the layers that make the Oaxacan Dead a must-try for any cocktail aficionado.

Key Facts About the Oaxacan Dead

  • Alcohol Volume: Approximately 30% ABV
  • Calories: Approximately 180 kcal
  • Preferred Glass: Old-fashioned glass
  • Typical Garnish: Orange peel

Interesting Facts about the Oaxacan Dead

  • The Oaxacan Dead is a twist on the classic Negroni, substituting gin with mezcal for a smokier profile.
  • Its name is a playful homage to the rich cultural tapestry of Oaxaca, known for its Day of the Dead celebrations.
  • The cocktail’s balance of flavors is a testament to the versatility of mezcal, which can range from sweet and fruity to earthy and smoky.

Oaxacan Dead Cocktail

Tasting Notes on the Oaxacan Dead

The Oaxacan Dead is a symphony of flavors, each sip revealing new notes to the palate. The initial smokiness of mezcal is perfectly complemented by the herbal and caramel notes of amaro. Sweet vermouth adds a layer of complexity with its rich and velvety sweetness, while Angostura bitters bring a subtle spice that ties everything together.

This cocktail is ideal for those who enjoy a drink with a robust flavor profile. It’s particularly suited for evening sipping or as a sophisticated after-dinner digestif. The Oaxacan Dead is also a great conversation starter at gatherings, offering a unique taste experience that’s sure to impress.

History of the Oaxacan Dead

The Oaxacan Dead is a relatively new addition to the cocktail scene, but its roots are deeply entwined with the history of mezcal. Mezcal, the soul of this cocktail, has been distilled in Mexico for centuries, with production methods that have changed little over time. The spirit’s recent surge in popularity has inspired mixologists to experiment with its bold flavors, leading to the creation of the Oaxacan Dead.

The cocktail’s name reflects the mystical and cultural significance of Oaxaca, a region famed for its Day of the Dead festivities. The Oaxacan Dead captures the essence of this celebration, blending tradition with modern mixology to create a drink that’s both timeless and contemporary.

Oaxacan Dead Ingredients

  • Mezcal (1 1/2 oz / 45 ml): The heart of the cocktail, mezcal provides a smoky base that is both complex and inviting.
  • Amaro (3/4 oz / 22 ml): This herbal liqueur adds a bittersweet depth, complementing the mezcal’s smokiness.
  • Sweet Vermouth (3/4 oz / 22 ml): It brings a sweet, aromatic quality that balances the cocktail’s bitter elements.
  • Angostura Bitters (2 dashes): A classic cocktail ingredient, these bitters add a layer of spice and complexity.
  • Orange Peel: The garnish adds a citrus aroma that brightens the cocktail’s rich profile.

Did you know? The Oaxacan Dead’s unique combination of ingredients creates a cocktail experience that is both a nod to tradition and a toast to innovation.

Ingredients for Oaxacan Dead Cocktail

Oaxacan Dead Method

Chilling the Glass

Begin by chilling an old-fashioned glass to ensure the cocktail maintains its temperature and integrity from the first sip to the last.

Combining the Ingredients

In a mixing glass filled with ice, pour the mezcal, amaro, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The quality of ice can affect dilution, so use large, clear cubes if possible.

Stirring to Perfection

Stir the mixture for about 30 seconds. This not only chills the drink but also dilutes it slightly, softening the alcohol’s bite and allowing the flavors to meld seamlessly.


Strain the cocktail into the prepared old-fashioned glass over a large ice cube. The use of a single large cube minimizes additional dilution, preserving the cocktail’s strength and flavor.


Express the orange peel over the drink to release its essential oils, then place it in the glass. This final touch adds a fragrant citrus note that elevates the entire drinking experience.

Serving Suggestion for the Oaxacan Dead

The Oaxacan Dead is best served in an old-fashioned glass, which allows the drink’s aromas to concentrate and enhances the overall tasting experience. The glass’s wide brim also makes it ideal for appreciating the garnish’s citrus scent.

For garnish, a twist of orange peel is not just decorative but functional. It adds a fresh, zesty aroma that contrasts beautifully with the cocktail’s smoky and herbal notes.

Elevating the Oaxacan Dead

  • Quality Mezcal: Opt for a premium mezcal with a pronounced smoky profile to anchor the cocktail’s flavor.
  • Artisanal Amaro: Choose an amaro with a complex herbal bouquet to add depth and intrigue to the drink.
  • Stirring Technique: Master the art of stirring to achieve the perfect dilution and temperature without over-diluting the cocktail.

Oaxacan Dead Cocktail Preparation

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Oaxacan Dead

If mezcal is not available, a peaty Scotch can be used as a substitute to mimic the smoky flavor profile. For a less bitter alternative, consider replacing amaro with a sweeter herbal liqueur.

Similar cocktails include the Negroni for its use of bitter and sweet elements, or the Manhattan for its whiskey base and vermouth content.

Add a Twist to the Oaxacan Dead

Experiment with different types of bitters to introduce new flavor notes, such as chocolate or orange bitters. Infuse the mezcal with spices like cinnamon or clove for an added layer of warmth and complexity.

Another twist could be to use a flavored vermouth, such as Punt e Mes, for a more pronounced bitter-sweet profile.

Preferred Liquors for the Oaxacan Dead

For the mezcal, Del Maguey Vida is a popular choice for its accessibility and smoky character. When it comes to amaro, Averna provides a lovely balance of sweetness and bitterness that complements the cocktail well.

Carpano Antica Formula is an excellent sweet vermouth option, known for its rich, vanilla notes that can enhance the Oaxacan Dead’s complexity.

Similar Cocktails to the Oaxacan Dead

If you enjoy the Oaxacan Dead, you might also like the Smoky Negroni, which shares the bitter-sweet dynamic, or the Boulevardier, which substitutes bourbon for mezcal.

The Mezcal Old Fashioned is another great option, simplifying the flavor profile while maintaining the smoky essence of the Oaxacan Dead.

Food Pairings to Go with the Oaxacan Dead

Classic Mexican appetizers like ceviche or guacamole can complement the Oaxacan Dead’s smoky and herbal notes. For a more unconventional pairing, try dark chocolate or blue cheese to play off the cocktail’s complexity.

Smoked meats or grilled vegetables also make excellent companions, echoing the mezcal’s smoky undertones.

Oaxacan Dead FAQs

Can I make the Oaxacan Dead without mezcal? While mezcal is a key ingredient, a smoky Scotch can be used as a substitute.

Is the Oaxacan Dead very bitter? The cocktail has a bittersweet profile, but the bitterness is balanced by the sweetness of the vermouth and the smokiness of the mezcal.

What type of amaro should I use? Averna is a great choice for its balanced herbal bitterness, but feel free to experiment with other amari to find your preferred taste.

Can I use dry vermouth instead of sweet? Sweet vermouth is recommended for its richness and sweetness, which balances the cocktail’s flavors.

What food pairs well with the Oaxacan Dead? Try pairing with bold flavors like smoked meats, dark chocolate, or Mexican appetizers.

Oaxacan Dead_001

Oaxacan Dead

A smoky and complex cocktail that combines the rich flavors of mezcal with the bitterness of amaro, accented by the sweetness of vermouth. Perfect for those who appreciate a deep, intricate drink.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 180 kcal


  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Jigger
  • Strainer
  • Old Fashioned glass


  • 1 1/2 oz Mezcal
  • 3/4 oz Amaro (such as Averna)
  • 3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish


  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Pour the mezcal, amaro, sweet vermouth, and bitters over the ice.
  • Stir the mixture until well chilled, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain the cocktail into a chilled old-fashioned glass over a large ice cube.
  • Express the orange peel over the drink to release its oils and place it in the glass as garnish.


The quality of mezcal can significantly influence the flavor of this cocktail. Choose a mezcal with a smoky profile that complements the herbal notes of the amaro and vermouth.
Keyword Agave Spirits, Amaro, bitter, bitters, Classic Cocktail, Cocktail, Mezcal Cocktail, mixology, Oaxacan Dead, Orange Peel, smoky, Stirred Cocktail, Sweet, sweet vermouth

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