Smoky ancho chili peppers and grilled mango might sound like the start of a salsa, but today those flavors are the base of this sweet and earthy cocktail that should be at the top of your must-make list.
Mangoes can occasionally be a little tangy and even tart, but grilling them caramelizes some of the flesh and boosts the sweetness factor. We love the yellow-skinned Champagne variety since they're especially sweet and creamy. Grilling makes the fruit that much more delicious, and helps add flavors that latch into the sweet-wood fired aroma of ancho chili peppers. These dried peppers (called poblano when fresh) don't add much heat, just complex flavor.
If you haven't experimented much with mezcal, this cocktail is a great place to start. (Want to read up first? Here's our guide.) Mezcal is a pretty assertive agave spirit that can sometimes overpower the other ingredients in a drink—if you've played with making cocktails with Scotch, you're in familiar territory here. But the vibrant flavors of mango, chili, and lime work well in combination with the spirit. The mango's heady sweetness, enhanced by the smoky undertone of the ancho syrup, makes for a great partner to the mezcal, accentuating its vegetal aspects and softening its domineering side.
About the Author: Elana Lepkowski is a Los Angeles based mixologist who photographs and shares her cocktail recipes at StirAndStrain.com. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter as @stirandstrain documenting what she drank last night and occasionally a picture of her dog.