BY ALISON BAILIN BATZ
MEZCAL MOVEMENT Try the smoky liquor that’s taking over the beverage industry
Less than 10 years ago, only a million liters of mezcal, a spirit derived from agave much like tequila, were produced. By contrast, last year farmers and distillers were tasked with producing 6 million liters of the spirit, which is now sold in 27 countries on three continents. But how is it different than tequila? “Tequila and mezcal have three distinct differences,” says Supreet Singh of Breakthru Beverage Arizona. “First, tequila can only be made from blue agave, whereas mezcal comes from nearly any variety of agave. Second, tequila can only be produced, by law, in Jalisco, Mexico, whereas mezcal can be from a variety of Mexican states. And finally, the production process is different, hence the distinctly smoky flavor of mezcal.” Here are eight sippers that incorporate the smoky liquor.
The Drop Bear NOOK KITCHEN El Silencio Mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, housemade eucalyptus cordial, juniper honey, lemon and aromatic bitters create a depth of flavor and make this cocktail equal parts smoky, herbaceous, botanical, sweet, and lightly acidic. $13. Two locations; www.nookkitchen.com.
Silent as a Church Mouse TACO GUILD This seductive cocktail blends El Silencio Mezcal with mole bitters to highlight the mezcal's smooth and elegant complex expressions, and then red wine and holiday spice to spark the senses. $9.95. 546 E. Osborn Road, Phoenix; 602.264.4143; www.tacoguild.com.
Piña Ahumada SIERRA BONITA GRILL A Tulum, Mexico specialty that translates to “smoky pineapple” in English, this balanced drink features Nuestra Soledad Mezcal, Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, lime and pineapple juices, and cinnamon syrup in a cayenne-salted rim glass. $9. 6933 N. 7th St., Phoenix; 602.264.0700; www.sierrabonitagrill.com.
Mezcalada LADERA TAVERNA Y COCINA A riff on the Puerto Rican classic, this cocktail swaps out the rum for Ilegal Mezcal Joven. The coconut cream and pineapple are there, as well as some lime for acidity and angostura bitters for spice. $8. 8729 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; 602.606.2258; www.laderaphx.com.
Crudarita CRUDO A refreshing play on a margarita, but with a tartness all its own, the Crudarita features Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Arette Blanco Tequila, lime, and sugar. $11. 3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix; 602.358.8666; www.crudoaz.com. Miel de Verano PAZ CANTINA Y TAQUEIRA Pampelmousse, housemade orange blossom honey and peaches add another level of complexity to this mezcal and tequila-infused cocktail. But beware: it’s strong! $12. 330 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix; 602.883.3651; www.pazcantina.com.
Uptown September '18
Santo Espino DESOTO CENTRAL MARKET This stunner combines Arrete Tequila, Agave De Cortes Mezcal, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur and lime juice with strawberries for a slightly sweet, spicy and very strong mixture. $12. 915 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; 602.680.7747; www.desotocentralmarket.com. Tierra Madre GALLO BLANCO At Gallo Blanco, mezcal is combined with aromatic turmeric that has hints of orange and ginger along with Tamarindo, a flavored “agua fresca” served throughout Latin America that adds effervescence. $10. 928 E. Pierce St., Phoenix; 602.327.0880; www.galloblancocafe.com.