Mezcal has really skyrocketed in popularity as a cocktail ingredient and in pop culture in the past few years, so much so that Mexico has even started to report shortages. Sometimes these waves of popular interest in the liquor of the moment crash as fast as they rise, but in the case of Mezcal, I’m really hoping it stays strong.
Mezcal is a close cousin of tequila, both being distilled from the Agave plant, with the main difference being that tequila comes specifically from blue agave while mezcal can come from a variety of other types of agave. This accounts for mezcal having a strong smokiness to its flavour, while still obviously having a similar taste profile as tequila.
That’s actually how I stumbled onto it a few years ago. I was looking for a birthday gift for our old friend Sebastian (notice how most of our stories start this way?), and I was in a rush, so I went to the tequila section of the LCBO and just grabbed a cool-looking bottle. At his party we cracked open the bottle, took a shot, and immediately thought the tequila had gone bad. Looking closer, we obviously found out that it wasn’t tequila at all (there just aren’t enough mezcal options in Ontario for it to warrant its own section, sadly).
Ever since then, I’ve always kept a bottle around myself to mix things up, which I’ll be doing some more in future mezcal posts. We’ll start today with something basic, which is just a margarita with mezcal subbed in.
2 oz mezcal
1 oz lime juice
½ oz Cointreau (or Triple Sec, but Cointreau is preferred)
½ oz simple syrup
Garnish: Lime wheel and (optional) salt rim
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Optionally, rim a rocks glass with salt. Fill with ice and double-strain the contents of the shaker into it. Garnish with a lime wheel.
If you like tequila margaritas, you’re going to notice a really nice smoky dimension to this and I have no doubt you’ll love it as much as I do. Next step: Organize a campaign to get mezcal and tequila onto the NAFTA renegotiation table!