No, not the kind of crazy mad you supposedly get when you eat the worm at the bottom of a cheap bottle (whose hallucinogenic effects are mythical anyway), but mad as in ardently enthusiastic, which our NY spirits scribes seem to be. First, over the weekend Eric Felten of the Wall Street Journal celebrated the death of vodka and the ‘tini culture (as in appletini, pomegranatini, etc.) and included a recipe using mezcal as a base. Then this morning, the NY Times publishes a whole article dedicated to the magic and artistry of the stuff. In our spirits department, we carry Del Maguey’s mezcal, which happens to be the brand Eric recommends. Ours comes from the Chichicapa village in Oaxaca and has light nose, yet is deep and sweet on the tongue with citrus flavor and a smoky finish with a hint of chocolate and mint at the end.
Mezcal, like tequila, is distilled from fermented juice of the heart of a succulent plant called agave. In the case of tequila, the heart or “pina” is roasted in an oven. Mezcal, however, is cooked in earthen mounds over pits of hot rocks. This method gives mezcal a smokier flavor than tequila and the individualized nature of the process allows for greater variation between batches.
Felten’s column declared the ‘Maximilian Affair’ (presumably named after the french invasion of Mexico and a reference to the use of a french liqueur in a mexican spirit base) a new classic cocktail. His recipe is below, which he adapted from Misty Kalkofen’s creation at Boston’s Drink bar.
1 1/4 oz Mezcal
3/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz sweet (red) vermouth (Punt e Mes is recommended, we used Cinzano)
1/4 oz lemon juice
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass.
Links for spirits mentioned:
Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal (Brooklyn)
Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal (Manhattan)
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (Brooklyn)
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (Manhattan)
Cinzano Sweet Vermouth Rosso (Brooklyn)
Cinzano Sweet Vermouth Rosso (Manhattan)