Mezcal: Tequila’s Mysterious Cousin

Curtain of Distraction

1 1/4 oz Mezcal <Sacrificio>
1 oz Drambuie
1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur <Galliano Ristretto>
1/2 oz lemon juice

Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

There are a few guarantees in life: seasons change, you pay your taxes, and if there is a mezcal drink on the menu, Mrs. Muddle will order it.  Ever since she discovered the”other” agave based spirit, she can not resist its powers.

Tequila and mezcal are distilled from the agave plant, but they have very different flavor profiles.  Tequila tends to be more vegetal and bright, while mezcal has a strong smokiness supported by earthy flavors.  Fans of Islay single malts and rich, woody bourbons will have no trouble making friends with this spirit.

Mezcal can find a home in cocktails at both ends of the spectrum, from bright and citrusy to deep and spirit forward.   A great way to start experimenting is to find your favorite tequila drink, and use mezcal instead.  Alternatively, you can deploy it in place of bourbon or a smokey scotch and see what happens.  One of my favorite pairings is mezcal and Drambuie.  It was a natural progression from the many tequila-Drambuie drinks I’d seen popping up at places like Drink and Brick and Mortar a few years back.  Drambuie is a scotch based liqueur flavored with honey and herbs.  The scotch part compliments the smokiness of the mezcal nicely, while the honey’s sweetness rounds out the edges and gives a fuller mouthfeel.

I started with this pairing for the Curtain of Distraction*.  I then decided to increase the roastiness factor of the drink by adding some coffee liqueur.  It was a recent addition to my bar and I’ve had pretty good success with it in bourbon based drinks, so why not challenge it a bit in this combination.  Finally, a little lemon to pull everything back up with a little brightness.  Like tequila, mezcal gets along wonderfully with any citrus.  This drink started off very deep and dark.  Clearly the mezcal and coffee liqueur were more than the some of their parts, and they even pulled out the scotch notes from the Drambuie.  Not to be outdone, the honey from the Drambuie and lemon juice provided some relief at the end with a sweet and sour finish.  A very enjoyable cocktail that covers a lot of ground flavor-wise.

Maximilian Affair

1 oz Mezcal <Del Maguey Vida>
1 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz lemon juice

Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Optional lemon twist for garnish.  Recipe created by Misty Kalkofen, formerly of Green St Grill, Drink, and Brick and Mortar.

For a different take on the Mezcal cocktail, try the Maximilian Affair.  It was created here in Boston, and while there are a few variations on the interwebs, this is the original recipe from former Boston bartender extraordinaire Misty Kalkofen.  Frederic Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut fills in the historical details.  What I like about this drink is the equal parts mezcal and St. Germain.  Mezcal has such a strong flavor, it can sometimes overpower a drink.  I find myself opting for a split base approach, or using just a little more mezcal relative to something else, to temper it slightly.  This tact allows the best parts of mezcal to shine through without blowing the other flavors away.

Next time you have a hankering some tequila, remember that mezcal is over there brooding in the corner, and can scratch that agave itch while giving you a very different experience.

* The Curtain of Distraction is a technique employed by the student section of ASU to distract opponents during free-throws.  Basically it’s a giant curtain behind the basket that opens up to reveal a few students in costumes doing all sorts of ridiculous things, all in hopes of getting the player to miss his shots.  Sometimes they’ll even trot out famous athletes.  It’s a pretty hilarious idea, and I felt like the name would be perfect for a cocktail.

3 thoughts on “Mezcal: Tequila’s Mysterious Cousin

  1. Mrs Muddle February 19, 2016 / 1:32 am

    What Bourbon was for you, Mezcal was for me…
    Readers- try a Mezcal old fashioned, just swap Bourbon for Mezcal. Swoon.


  2. virginiaemily February 19, 2016 / 8:02 am

    Really interesting cocktails – I’ve had a few mezcal drinks in bars but I don’t have any at home so I’m not that well acquainted with it. I’ll have to get some and try the Mezcal Old Fashioned first!


    • Adam February 22, 2016 / 7:37 pm

      @virginaemily @mrsmuddle a Mezcal old fashioned is a great place to start!


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