Ivy Mix, co-owner of Leyenda in Brooklyn, riffs on a mai tai with smoky mezcal. The name of the drink (an anagram of "mai tai") pays homage to a friend to whom she used to serve drinks in Guatemala.
Tide Is High
New York City tiki specialist Jane Danger mixes up this tequila-and-mezcal pina colada variation. Instead of coconut cream, she swaps in homemade cashew cream for a toasty, savory flavor. Alternatively, use store-bought cashew milk, preferably pressed from a juice bar.
To give mezcal a pleasant bitterness, bartender Jeremy Oertel stirs in grapefruit liqueur. The bracing bitterness of Campari emphasizes the grapefruit flavor.
The Palomaesque Cocktail
The Paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail made with lime juice, tequila and grapefruit soda. Scott Baird, the mixologist who created this drink for Comal in Berkeley, makes his version with smoky mezcal, fresh grapefruit juice and Cocchi Americano, the sweet Italian aperitif wine.
Ginger's Lost Island
Bryan Dayton's mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger liqueur and smoky mezcal evokes everything from Mexican food to the flavors of Asia and India.
Cucumber, Salt & Smoke
Mezcal, made from fire-roasted agave, provides the smokiness in this unusual Pisco Sour update. The cucumber is fresh and herbaceous, and even though the cocktail contains simple syrup, a pinch of salt makes it more dry than sweet. While the shaken egg white adds a dramatic foamy head, the drink is equally delicious without an egg white.
El Gusano Rojo
Amaro Lucano is a slightly bitter herbal Italian liqueur that Philip Ward says tastes a bit like chocolate. Combined with rich tawny port and smoky mezcal, it's a terrific digestif.
This drink was one of the 20 tequila and mezcal cocktails on Mayahuel's opening menu. The name references the Pink Floyd album that mixologist Philip Ward listened to over and over while constructing the bar.
Naked & Famous
“Because there is so little mezcal in this cocktail, choosing a big, aggressively smoky bottling is key,” says Joaquín Simó. He opts for Del Maguey’s nicely complex Chichicapa.
El Diablo Refinado
A short drink is composed mainly of spirits and served without ice. A long drink is served in a tall glass with soda, beer or sparkling wine. Sean Kenyon likes making short drinks long and long ones short. He calls it the “Willy Wonka effect.” Here, he shrinks the El Diablo by using ginger liqueur in place of the beer and lemon bitters for the lime juice.
Maguey is another name for agave. Roasting the heart of the plant in an earthen pit (as opposed to steaming or baking it, which is done for tequila) is what gives Mezcal its smoky flavor.