Primer Número Cocktail With Mezcal
An aperitif cocktail calls for mezcal, and balance
Mezcal is finally getting the respect it deserves, and not just from bartenders. Departing from the image of touristy, worm-laden bottles, an increasing number of handcrafted mezcal brands are coming on the market, readily being purchased in stores or requested by customers as a substitute for tequila in cocktails.
With its rich history and complex, smoky flavor, mezcal might strike some as having the attributes of a fine Scotch, and surprisingly it is a spirit that plays well with a wide range of other spirits and modifiers, providing it is balanced properly. A great application I sipped at last month's Tales of the Cocktail was a mezcal Negroni created by cocktail luminary Charlotte Voisey, using Lillet Rosé in place of vermouth and Aperol in place of Campari as a bitter. The result was an incredibly refreshing and approachable aperitif cocktail, showcasing the versatility of this distinctive spirit.
Though Voisey used a lighter version of mezcal for her drink in New Orleans, I decided to try my hand at Sombra Mezcal, a smooth, spicy spirit that, like many mezcals, is excellent for sipping, but this one also has the potential to be more robust in a cocktail. Of course, honing a drink's balance can be a difficult task, but sticking to the Negroni's original equal-parts specifications, this cocktail displayed a marriage between the spicy palate and smoky aroma of the mezcal, an citrusy sweetness from the Aperol, and the distinct rosé wine roundness from the Lillet. Still boozy, but certainly a great drink for lunch or an early afternoon. Enjoy!
- Combine ingredients and stir with ice for 10 to 15 seconds in a mixing glass.
- Strain into a chilled rocks glass with ice.
- Express oils from an orange twist and garnish.