You know mezcal for bringing smoke into cocktails. But this earth-driven spirit—which can be derived from more than 30 different species of agave plants—is more versatile, capable of adding earthy, floral, and even citrus notes to a number of cocktails.
says Tim Wiggins, co-owner and beverage director of Lazy Tiger and Yellowbelly cocktail bar in St Louis.
The depth of her expression also allows her to shine in cocktails that traditionally have an aging spirit, like old-fashioned, Manhattan, or penicillin, says Wiggins.
Plus, the beauty of making cocktails with mezcal is that you can bring out flavors you didn’t know were there, says Luke Detraz, market manager at El Silencio Mezcal. For example, using blood orange with espine from Mezcal El Silencio brings out the citrus aroma. Add mezcal in the margarita to help bring the peppery flavors forward and the smoke in old-fashioned mezcal can resemble a roasted bourbon barrel, he says.
Here, bartenders share how they are reinventing the classics with mezcal. These seven recipes use mezcal to create everything from tropical to vegan to citrusy cocktails.
1. Strawberry Fire Squad
Try this if you like…a spicy margarita
This mezcal cocktail calls in strawberry-scratched syrup to tame the heat. Ryan Williams, Team Leader says: Kachina CanteenA in Denver.
- 1.5 oz Mezcal Union Joven
- 0.5 oz Ancho Reese Chili Liqueur
- 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
- 0.5 oz of strawberry syrup*
- 2 drops Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Cocktail Shrub Bitters
* Strawberry Syrup Ingredients