Mezcal is burning up the cocktail scene right now. Bartenders are switching out tequilas, whiskeys, and rums for the Mexican agave spirit in almost any cocktail. Mezcal Old Fashioneds, mezcal margaritas, mezcal Manhattans, mezcal you-name-its are all here to give off their vegetal smoky vibes. And we’re here for all of it.
A micro primer: Mezcal is the umbrella agave spirit that tequila was born from. Whereas tequila has to be made from blue agave in Jalisco, mezcal can be made from various agave plants in several states around Mexico. Oaxaca tends to dominate the conversation, especially as far as exports are concerned, but the point of a great mezcal is a local, traditional operation that uses smoky roasting, stone milling, wild yeasts, and classic distillation. The “where” isn’t quite as prominent as the “how.”
Mezcal’s endless variations make it the perfect spirit to explore during a party. You get the familiarity of tequila with the nuance of a great whiskey (when it’s aged). The six bottles below will kick off your journey through the world of mezcal, offering a gateway to the style and upping your game by the end of the night.
Del Maguey Crema De Mezcal — The Welcome Drink
What to talk about:
Del Maguey’s Crema de Mezcal is a combination of a 100 percent espadín agave mash that’s cut with miel de agave, an unfermented roasted agave syrup. The addition of the miel de agave smoothes this one out, allowing an easy entry point to the spirit with its harsh edges whittled away.
You’re met with clear notes of smoke, citrus, and roasted agave up front. The sweetness from the roasted agave honey comes into play but stays in the passenger seat next to the rich smokiness, fruity nature, and rich herbal notes. This is a great sip, shot, or margarita base.