For the sage simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of the sugar slowly, stirring until it's all completely dissolved. Add 6 to 8 lightly torn sage leaves. Simmer on low for 2 minutes and let cool with the sage leaves in the syrup **(up to one hour)**. Remove leaves and store in a sealed jar, refrigerated.
For the candied sage. Dip 8 fresh sage leaves in the sage simple syrup. Lightly dust both sides with sugar and place on wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Carefully remove the leaves with tongs and let cool.
For the cocktail. Smudge a fresh sage leaves around the rim and insides of your rocks glass making sure to smash the leaves. Discard smashed leaves.
In a mixing glass, combine 2oz tequila, 2 dashes orange bitters, and 0.5 oz sage simple syrup.
Stir and strain into a serving glass with single large ice cube.
Place candied sage across the glass rim and flame and express an orange peel onto the cocktail surface.
Make way more candied sage than you think you need, because you'll want a few leaves per drink.
This cocktail works with any tequila, but better with aged tequilas.
For an interesting variation (or if you're out of candied sage), instead of using the full 2oz of tequila, substitute 0.5oz of mezcal **(so 2oz tequila becomes 1.5oz tequila + 0.5oz mezcal)**. Depending on the mezcal, it should bring a funky, herbal, smoky character to the drink. These proportions are typically found in a similar cocktail called an Oaxacan Old Fashioned.