Often overshadowed by its more popular brother, tequila, mezcal doesn't usually get a fair shot. Maybe it's the smokey flavor that polarizes people, or the association with worms, but this often misunderstood spirit really makes for some great cocktails.
'mezcal' on Serious Eats
If you haven't experimented much with mezcal, this cocktail, made with grilled mango and ancho chili peppers, is a great place to start.
At The Pastry War in Houston, Bobby Heugel brings together big flavors with smoky mezcal, herbal-anisey Green Chartreuse, spicy ginger beer, and mole bitters.
Is it a bartender's duty to make sure drinks possess mass appeal? Guy Smith, bar manager of Philadelphia's High Street on Market, doesn't think so. Combining the juice of an already-divisive brassica with smoky-mouthed mezcal and dry seasonings more often found on ribs than in rocks glasses, he's created a vegetable-based cocktail so green it could double as a Kermit the Frog-inspired paint swatch.
What's the strangest thing you've seen someone do while drinking? I mean, on purpose, not just because they're drunk and disorderly. Booze-makers and drinkers all around the world have certain practices that might seem odd to an outsider. This week, we'll look at a few.
The bar at La Urbana in San Francisco is already stocked with 56 different mezcals, with another dozen or so on the way.
While mezcal's outsider status is attractive to those who seek out and consume hard-to-find booze, limited distribution and publicity also makes it difficult to penetrate the mass market. Mezcal from Oaxaca, a partnership between 11 independent mezcal brands and the Oaxacan government, seeks to change all that.
If you've read up on mezcal and you really want to get into it, there's a world of cocktails out there for you: savory ones with Scotch, rich ones with ginger, cool variations on classics and original cocktails popping up in bars around the country. Here are 9 recipes we love from top cocktail programs around the country »
In this smoky variation on the Fancy Free, Mayhuel's Philip Ward replaces bourbon with one part Irish whiskey and one part mezcal. Instead of maraschino, spicy Benedictine gets in on the action.
"This one's a good introductory bitter cocktail and a good introductory boozy cocktail," says Philip Ward, co-owner and bartender of East Village tequila and mezcal palace Mayahuel. "It's bitter and boozy, yet gentle in both ways." The Rosa Amargo, a creation of Mayahuel bartender Jeremy Oertel, is a smoky, grapefruit-tinged Negroni variation, served up.
"We wanted to introduce people to mezcal who haven't had it before," says 1534 bartender James Lombardino. "It's like bourbon and scotch. A lot of people like bourbon, but they're not accustomed to a smoky scotch; going from tequila to mezcal is kind of the same thing."
Taste mezcal's softer side in the Allsorts Inc. For a change it's stone fruit spice, not chili smoke, that warms you in this agave-based cocktail.
Tacos and margaritas on the fifth of May are no more Mexican than green beer in the middle of March is Irish. But if you're looking to put a shot of authenticity into your celebrations this Saturday, you should really consider making it mezcal day.
Mezcal is our friend tequila's older, mysterious, and poorly understood brother. People have a lot of misconceptions about mezcal (no, it doesn't contain mescaline) but it's worth taking a minute to see what this stuff is really all about. Let's learn a bit about how mezcal is made from roasted agave and what's up with that worm you sometimes see in the bottle.
Our trek through the world of spirits takes us today to Western Mexico, more specifically to the state of Jalisco and the mid-sized town of Tequila. Perhaps for some of you, the very sound of the word tequila makes your stomach churn and your cheeks flush with shame, but there's far more to this beverage than shot after shot at a college bar.
Whenever you start to yearn for the sweet scent of the grill, salvation is only as far away as the closest bottle of mezcal. Sombra ranks particularly high on the list of potable proxies for, or delicious additions to, a sunny charcoal tending session.
Once relegated to the lower end of the liquor world, mezcal is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity as artisan varieties of this Mexican spirit became increasingly available in the U.S. This week's New York Times features a tasting panel exploration of some of the better mezcals now available; here's a closer look at this once-declasse spirit.
Tequila sales skyrocketed earlier this decade as liquor companies began producing and distributing greater quantities of premium tequila, but mezcal is typically a small-batch spirit with a great diversity of flavor based largely on the village where it was produced.