Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Division Bell

Division Bell cocktail
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

The Division Bell, an agave-and-Aperol-fueled Last Word riff from veteran bartender Phil Ward, was among the first cocktails to put mezcal on the map in the U.S. 

When Ward opened the now-shuttered Mayahuel in New York City’s East Village with Ravi DeRossi in 2009, American consumers mostly associated agave spirits with Margaritas. But Ward had been experimenting with agave-spirit cocktails for some time at nearby Death & Co., where in 2007 he created the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, a twist that swapped out bourbon in favor of a split base of reposado tequila and mezcal. When it came time to open his own place, Ward decided to go all in on agave, putting 20 tequila and mezcal drinks on Mayahuel’s first menu, including the Division Bell. The name pays homage to the Pink Floyd album of the same name, which Ward says he listened to on repeat while he was constructing the bar.

A few years earlier, a classic cocktail had re-entered the spotlight: The Last Word, an equal-parts drink of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice, was invented at the Detroit Athletic Club around 1915, but it was lost to history until Seattle bartender Murray Stenson unearthed the recipe in the early aughts. Soon, the pre-Prohibition classic was inspiring plenty of variations. One of the most famous was the Paper Plane, a twist by Sam Ross that employed equal parts bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino Quintessia, and lemon juice. Ward’s Division Bell hewed more closely to the original, keeping the maraschino liqueur and lime juice but swapping out gin for mezcal and green Chartreuse for Aperol. At Death & Co., meanwhile, Joaquín Simó created the Naked & Famous, an equal-parts cocktail of mezcal, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse, and lime juice. Although the two are similar on paper, each borrows from its parent drink in a different way. While the Naked & Famous uses the Aperol in place of the original’s maraschino liqueur, the Division Bell employs the orange bitter liqueur in place of herbaceous Chartreuse, giving each drink its own distinct flavor profile.

Ward’s cocktail calls for Del Maguey Vida mezcal, the brand’s flagship expression and a bartender favorite for its mixability, but any espadín with fruity and smoky notes will work. Aperol lends its bitter, citrusy flavors alongside the brightness of lime juice and the gentle sweetness of maraschino liqueur. It may not have the easy-to-remember equal-parts formula of the drink that inspired it, but this modern classic is worth committing to memory.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce mezcal (preferably Del Maguey Vida)

  • 3/4 ounce Aperol

  • 1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur (preferably Luxardo)

  • 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Garnish: grapefruit twist

Steps

  1. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

  3. Express the oils from a grapefruit twist over the drink, then discard the twist.