Mezcal is one of the most versatile trending additions to the cocktail world and is being featured on cocktail menus across the world. Mezcal is often spelled as m-e-s-c-a-l, exactly like the way in which it is pronounced and sometimes can also be written in a similar manner on the menu. Although, tequila and mezcal are alike, they have a few differences in distillation processes, regions that produce these spirits, and even the varieties of plant that these spirits are prepared from. Jalisco is the hub of tequila manufacturing, while a majority of mezcal production takes place in Oaxaca. Tequila can only be produced from Blue Agave, while mezcal can be made from more than 30 types out of the 200 varieties of Agave plants. The agave used for making tequila is steamed in ovens made of brick or in stainless steel autoclaves situated above the ground, while mezcal is more artisanal product and the agave plants used for its production are cooked in the underground, cone-shaped pits, usually lined with volcanic rocks.
While buying mezcal, considering whether you want it for mixing or sipping and deciding the level of smokiness will aid you in choosing the right one for you…Here are a few pointers for the same:
ESPADIN– This is the most popular choice for mezcal, which is easily accessible and among the most affordable spirits in the list. They make incredible sippers, as well as great mixers.
AGED– The process of aging agave adds an oaky, vanilla component, which subdues smokiness and softens the spirit. These are a great choice to begin your mezcal tasting journey with and make admirable sippers. Here are a few words on the labels that will give you an idea about the duration for which the mezcal has been aged:
Joven- Indicates a young mezcal, probably aged for not more than a few months
White- Indicates it is a clear spirit that has been aged for 2 months or even less.
Dorado- White mezcal with an added color to the spirit.
Reposado- This spirit has been aged for 2-9 months in a wooden barrel.
Añejo– Aged for minimum 1 year and usually as long as 2-3 years.
SWEETENED– These spirits have a touch of smoke, paired with some added sweetness, which makes it a refreshing drink and a total crowd pleaser.
And as every go-to guide for drinks is incomplete without a few cocktail recipes, here are some for you to try your mezcal with:
GRILLED PINEAPPLE MARGARITA
- 1 oz. mezcal
- 1 oz. silver tequila
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 1⁄2 pineapple juice
- 3⁄4 agave syrup
- 1 1-inch pineapple round
- 1 lime wheel, for garnish
- Grill a round of pineapple for 1-2 minutes, until it is seared on both sides. Chop the pineapple into 4 chunks and keep it aside.
- Muddle pineapple juice, agave, lime juice, and 3 chunks of grilled pineapple together. Add tequila, mezcal, and ice to the muddled mixture. Strain into the glass over ice. To garnish it, use the lime wheel and the remaining chunk of grilled pineapple.
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Kosher salt
- 1 lime wedge
- 1/4 ounce lime juice
- 2 ounces grapefruit juice
- 2 ounces mezcal
- 2 ounces soda water
- 1 grapefruit wedge, for garnish
Rim the glass using a lime wedge and kosher salt. To rim the glass, rub the rim of the glass with a lime wedge and dip the rim into a plate with kosher salt. Spin the glass slowly, until the rim is lightly coated in the salt.
Pour grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar, and mezcal into a glass. Stir the mixture, until the sugar has dissolved. Add ice cubes and top it off with soda water. Lastly, use the grapefruit wedge to garnish.
AN APEROL COCKTAIL
- 3/4 ounce Aperol
- 1-ounce mezcal
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon
- 2 to 3 dashes of either Angostura or chocolate bitters
- 3 ounces club soda
- Lemon peel, for garnish
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add Aperol, mezcal, lemon juice, and bitters. Shake the mixture for about 15 seconds and keep it aside. Fill the glass with fresh ice and add club soda to it. Strain the cocktail on top and use the lemon peel to garnish.
- These drinks are best served in a highball or rocks glass.