The Mysteries of Mezcal
July 24 2014

The Mysteries of Mezcal

New York-Table Talk

Smashing news, friends: July 24th is National Tequila Day!

And while a fine tequila can lead the evening in unexpected directions, nothing compares to the magic of mezcal, tequila’s sultry cousin.

Tequila and mezcal both ferment from the heavenly agave plant. However, tequila cooks in run-of-the-mill ovens, while mezcal roasts in fiery earthen pits of hot stones, giving it a bolder, wilder, smokier flavor. Ay ay ay!

So while everyone else is tequila-sipping and tippling today and tonight, Gates Otsuji, The Standard, High Line’s master of cocktails suggests mixing things up with this mezcal cocktail called Jackie 60. He also recommends some of his favorite mezcals from across the border. Must. Have. Mezcal.

Jackie 60

2.0 oz Sombra Joven mezcal
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz Grand Marnier
0.25 oz agave nectar
Lime wheel
Smoked Salt

Dip the rim of a rocks glass in agave, and then in smoked salt. Muddle a lime wheel in the bottom of the glass, and fill the glass with crushed ice. In an ice-filled shaker, combine liquid ingredients and shake briefly. Strain contents into glass & serve immediately.

And for mezcals...

Del Maguey, Minero

Del Maguey’s Minero is a great point of entry to mezcal for whisky lovers. Its smokiness rises to expectations while still offering nuances to savor while sipping. It has a floral nose, honeyed fruit undertones with a warming finish. The smoked flavors are mitigated by a subtle sweetness that carries all the way through—more like a well-aged bourbon than a heavily-peated scotch.

Sombra Joven

Widely available, Sombra Mezcal is big on the smoke, but light on the palate, blending light citrus and briny notes with a heavily herbaceous front end. While there’s not much subtlety to Sombra Joven, it can definitely stand up to the more heavy-handed flavors in cocktails.

Pierde Almas, Mezcal de Pechuga

Traditionally produced only during the holiday season, Mezcal de Pechuga can be extremely difficult to come by, but if you find it, you need to try it. Please trust me; it’s worth the price. This particular brand incorporates seasonal fruits, nuts and spices into a triple-distillation process, tempering the overall flavor arc, and softening the nose of the spirit.

Ilegal Anejo

Tamed by barrel-aging, Ilegal Anejo is a more refined mezcal experience than its younger cousins. In taking the edge off the smokiness, the barrel brings forth some darker, warming flavors, and gives a spreading texture to the mid-note, which registers equally across the tongue, and finishes lighter than it begins. Come by Top Of The Standard and try the “One Hot Minute” cocktail to see what this mezcal is all about.