The Art of Balance in Cocktails: Exploring the Zapatero

In the world of mixology, the harmony of flavors is an art form, and the Zapatero cocktail is a masterpiece that exemplifies this. Created by California bartender Jeremy Lake, this drink is a nuanced variation of the Old Fashioned, where the traditional single spirit base is replaced with a bold combination of mezcal and bourbon.

The Essence of Zapatero

At the heart of the Zapatero lies El Silencio mezcal, chosen for its perfect blend of minerality, smoke, and earthiness. This mezcal, crafted by a ninth-generation mezcalero, brings an authentic and earthy smoke flavor to the cocktail. Complementing the mezcal is Booker’s Bourbon, adding familiar notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and spices. This combination creates a cocktail with depth and complexity, a dance of smoky and sweet flavors.

Zapatero Cocktail

Zapatero Cocktail

The Zapatero cocktail is a sophisticated twist on the classic Old Fashioned, blending the smoky allure of mezcal with the rich warmth of bourbon. Enhanced with the sweet nuttiness of orgeat syrup and balanced with a mix of aromatic and chocolate bitters, this cocktail offers a complex, layered drinking experience. Perfect for those who appreciate a drink with depth and character, the Zapatero is a testament to the art of cocktail crafting, showcasing how two distinct spirits can harmonize to create something truly extraordinary.

Rate this Recipe

Prep Time 4 minutes
Total Time 4 minutes

Ingredients - What's in it?


  • Cinnamon - freshly grated
  • Cranberry
  • Orange twist

Adjust Servings 1 serving

Instructions - How to make it:

  • Combine mezcal, bourbon, orgeat, and both bitters in a mixing glass with ice.
  • Stir until well-chilled.
  • Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice.
  • Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon, cranberry, and an orange twist.

Become a Drink Buddy


Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 0.1mg | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 16mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

Course Beverage, Cocktail, Drinks
Cuisine Beverage, Cocktail, Drinks
Keyword Beverage, Cocktail, Drink

Orgeat: The Sweet Differentiator

Instead of the usual simple syrup, the Zapatero uses orgeat, a rich syrup traditionally made from almonds and orange flower water. This choice adds a nutty sweetness and a unique texture to the cocktail. While there are several bottled orgeat syrups available, making your own can add a personal touch to the drink. Experimenting with different nuts like hazelnuts or pistachios can lead to exciting variations.

A Symphony of Bitters

The cocktail is rounded off with a dash of Angostura and Aztec chocolate bitters. These bitters provide a balanced structure and add depth to the flavor profile, enhancing the overall experience of the drink.

Approach and Tips:

  • Approach: The Zapatero is about creating a harmonious blend of the smoky mezcal and the rich bourbon, with the orgeat adding a sweet, nutty layer.
  • Tips:
    • Mezcal Selection: While El Silencio is recommended, other quality mezcals like Banhez or Del Maguey Vida can also be used.
    • Bourbon Flexibility: Feel free to substitute Booker’s Bourbon with another high-quality bourbon like Knob Creek for a similar flavor profile.
    • Orgeat Variations: Homemade orgeat can be tailored with different nuts, offering a unique twist to each batch.