Perhaps the most unappreciated spirit on liquor store shelves, mezcal has gotten a bad rap for years. From the cheaper versions that have a worm floating in the bottom of the bottle (it’s a tourist trap!) to its confusingly close association with the other agave spirit—tequila—of which there is very little similarity, it’s finally in the midst of a cocktailian makeover.
The mezcal bandwagon is one to jump on enthusiastically. To make the transition a little less intimidating, try pairing it with something everyone loves: fruit. In part because of the spirit’s intensity and smokiness, it pairs wonderfully with more acidic options like apples and citrus.
Curious? Make one of these tantalizingly fruity mezcal cocktails and you’ll never underestimate the Mexican liquor again.
There’s no more autumn-appropriate drink than this amalgamation of apple cider, lemon juice and ginger beer. The cocktail also includes a healthy measure of tequila, which under no circumstances should be reserved for summertime Margaritas, plus a touch of mezcal. Despite the meager amount of the liquor, the shot of mezcal lends the proper smoky punch and makes the cocktail that much more enticing.
Whether you’re throwing a party for a self-proclaimed cocktail nerd or not, this punch balances mezcal’s in-your-face flavor with two kinds of citrus (grapefruit and lemon), amaro and ginger beer. There’s little doubt that anyone would turn their nose up at this powerful bowl.
Need a little mayhem in your life? Take it straight to your mouth with this complex combination of sweet, sour, smoky, bitter and bubbly. While that combination of flavors seems impossible to do well, top bartender Adam Seger’s mixture of mezcal, Campari, mayhaw syrup and beer does it with ease.
The apple-and-mezcal love affair surfaces again in this tall drink. But this cocktail livens up the tryst with Chinese five spice, elderflower liqueur, Peychaud’s Bitters (for a hint of licorice) and apple soda (in addition to cider). Mind blown? Try it. Now.
A classic Paloma includes three components: tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda. It’s a true stalwart—but there’s always room for improvement, they say. The aptly named Smoky Paloma calls for not one but three different types of spirits—tequila, mezcal and vodka—and uses grapefruit juice rather than soda. Plus, an egg white gives the drink a creamy texture.