Mezcal is tequila’s brooding cousin—it’s also made in Mexico from a type of agave plant. Sometimes it’s jokingly called the Scotch of Mexico because of its strong smoky flavor. It used to have a nasty “eat the worm” reputation, but every year more and more sophisticated mezcals are making it to the states. Like tequila, it pairs well with sweet or tart fruit as well as spice. Since it’s not called for in the “classics,” has a bold flavor, and is less familiar to most of us, mezcal doesn’t always make it into our shakers. But if you’re willing to experiment, it can knock your socks off! Here are some tasty recipes to try.
Brush of the Bush ~ This cocktail mixes two of Mexico’s signature spirits: Anejo tequila and smoky mezcal. Add some sage-infused agave syrup, a big ice cube and you have an aromatic and savory cocktail.
Mezcal Smash ~ Sweet pineapple is a tasty counterbalance for mezcal in this easy-to-make and refreshing drink. A little cinnamon syrup is the perfect bridge between the sweet and smoky flavors.
Oaxaca Cooler ~ Cucumber, lemon, and a little chili salt add a nice touch to Oaxacan mezcal. Saveur recommends using a non-traditional, unsmoked agave mezcal.
Fennel Delight ~ Fennel and grapefruit are one of my favorite salad combinations, and I had no idea they’d be such a lovely complement to mezcal. It lets the mezcal shine without smoke dominating your palette.
El Guapo Cocktail ~ Hot sauce makes this a spicy drink to rival any Bloody Mary, and mezcal takes the drink to an even spicier place … with a little lime, cucumber, and simple syrup to temper the heat.