Mezcal is quickly becoming America’s favorite Mexican import. Bartenders across the country have ditched tequila in favor of its smoky cousin, and many prefer it for its depth (and the lack of embarrassing college memories associated with it, I’m sure).
Mezcal is distilled from a mash of roasted agave plants, but unlike tequila — which can only use the variety known as blue agave — it can be made from many different cultivars. Traditionally, the spirit was made with whatever regional varieties were available to the people making it.
Contrary to popular belief, the worm in the bottom of the bottle is not a necessary component. In fact, you’ll find that nearly every brand that contains one is inferior.
The worm tradition was actually started to give these spirits added flavor (yuck!), and was first done by Nacionale Vinicola in their Gusano Rojo mezcal.
For the end of the summer, we’ve put together a collection of some our favorite mezcal cocktails. Some are classics, others are new-school favorites, and two of them were concocted in the Bevvy Cocktail Lab.
To kick things off, we’ve got the Paloma. This is one of the most popular cocktail recipes made in Mexico, and it features either grapefruit juice and club soda or one of the many traditional Mexican grapefruit sodas that can be found in most well-stocked grocery stores. While traditionally made with tequila, the smokiness of mezcal takes the Paloma to new heights.
A drink as classic and simple as the Paloma is bound to have variations, and one of our favorites comes from SIP (Southport & Irving Restaurant and Bar), an amazing Prohibition-style neighborhood bar in North Lakeview, Chicago. Recipe courtesy Ardit Dizdari.
Mezcal El Diablo
Despite its name, El Diablo is a perfect cocktail to help you stay cool and refreshed. The sweetness of crème de cassis combines perfectly with the tartness of ginger beer and the intense smokiness of mezcal. These cocktails are especially good for summer get-togethers where exact measurements aren’t your top priority!
Next on our list is the Tobacco Road, which is currently the base of many interesting cocktail variations across the US. It’s simple, strong, and features an unmistakable combination of Cynar and mezcal. The finishing touches of a grapefruit rind and a pinch of salt really enhance the experience. The result is a dynamic garnish that begins to eat away at the cocktail’s one large ice cube, slowly infusing the spirits with flavor.
The first Bevvy original on this list (and, in fact, the first one we ever did!), the Aventura is an unassuming drink that is able to bring even the strongest suitor to their knees. The cocktail begins with a combination of muddled raspberries, lemon and lime juices, and sugar. This pungently sweet concoction is then combined with mezcal, Grand Marnier, and St Germain to make a sinfully luxurious, elegant cocktail.
The Burning Berry
This last one is another Bevvy original. This drink is a smoky version of a traditional fizz, and it includes some interesting ingredients such as rock candy syrup, strawberry bitters, and an egg white. For a particularly nice presentation, serve over shaved ice in a snifter glass.