The nose of the mezcal reaches me, its earhty…and smoky…but not overwelmingly so – in a pleasant way it invites you to take a sip.
I wrote this on my post on mezcal at theMixoloseum blog and its how i feel about mezcal.I wrote a little about how mezcal is made as well in that post so i`m not writing about the process in making it now – even though that´s a very interesting topic but what i´m going to write about is Ilegal mezcal which is a handcrafted small batch product and one of the best mezcals out there (of those i have tried)
Its a very smooth and pleasant mezcal which keeps the smokiness lingering in the background and not upfront – instead it grows upon you as it should if well made. At least that`s what i think.
I`ve tried two of Ilegal mezcals – the joven (young/unaged) which i graciously received here just before i left for the US and then the anejo which was brought to the Mixoloseum house in New Orleans courtesy Ilegal mezcal and which i was lucky to sample there. Both are very good, these mezcals are very smooth and they belong to the top shelf mezcals.
I have also tried a few bad mezcals and all i can say is that there´s a huge difference between a good one and a not so good.
The joven is a young mezcal, double and triple distilled made from espadin agave.The anejo is aged one year in medium charred new oak barrels.They also make a reposado which i haven´t tried. Its aged 4-5 months in the same type of barrels as the anejo.The bottle labels are also very nice and the paper has a special feel to it.
Try to find mezcal here in this country…just the thought of it is almost ridiculous, on the shelf i can count on one hand the brands of tequila that i can pick, so what does it take to get something like mezcal to be sold here? few people even knows what it is. Well, i`m happy i do because its deliscious, good to sip neat and good to mix with as well.
I had a few nice tequila and mezcal cocktails at Mayahuel in NYC and i specifically remember one called “Slight Detour” with joven and reposado mezcals, agave and Xocoatl mole bitters and a trio of jalapeno tequila – and peppers is something i think goes really well with these spirits.
I`m currently experimenting with mezcal cocktails and infusions and there will definetily be more of it here.The fun thing with infusing mezcal is that you have its rich flavour profile and smokiness that challenges you. You can infuse it with many things but not all will end up with a good result.
For instance i have a green tomato infusion that have been sitting for a week now and the tomatos hasn´t yet imparted any much to the infusion because they are to light in flavour. I wanted to use tomatillos but they are only occasionally available here, say once a year or so. There´s no mexican food store here either and that is very unfortunate i think.
The pineapple infusion on the other hand turned out really good, the mexcal has just a hint of pineapple and its just the way i like it. I made a chorizo infusion as well and made it to be subtle too (1-2 days – you gotta taste your way) and i think it turned out well. When i make my infusion experiments i always make very small jars, just enough for about 2 drinks because i don´t want to waste the spirit. Two other infusions that works well with mezcal is habanero and jalapeno peppers.
I like to combine mezcal and tequila with freshly muddled herbs and spices combined with fresh juices and simple, flavoured or agave syrups – it`s a nice thing for the palate.
Here´s another cocktail i made using one of my favorite bitters – Bitter Truth´s celery bitters and my pineapple infused joven mezcal with fresh lime, raw sugar cane and aperol garnished with a mezcal soaked cherry from my backyard.
2 oz pineapple infused Ilegal mezcal joven
1 oz Aperol
0.5 oz fresh lime
0.5 oz raw sugar syrup
3 dashes BT celery bitters
Shake over ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.Garnish with a mezcal soaked cherry and a thin celery stick.
This cocktail turned out really fresh and nice tasting with the slightly pineapple flavoured mezcal playing nicely with both the aperol and celery bitters. But the big win was at the end – to eat the mezcal soaked cherry.That was nom nom.
To make mezcal soaked cherries:
Add fresh cherries to a jar filled with joven mezcal and soak for at least a week before use. I actually used this cherry a bit too early, only after a few days.They get even better with time but it was very flavourful already. Last year i soaked all my cherries in Luxardo maraschino, i had a supply that lasted the whole winter.This fall i`m gonna soak more cherries in mezcal and then make a jar with Luxardo and a jar with tequila.That should take me through the coming winter.
Just lately for the equal parts TDN i decided to use this mezcal in a drink that i called “Bitter Smoke”. I think this mezcal goes pretty well with Campari, and the Fevertree tonic is just what is needed to give it a fresh sparkle. Now this drink was made after the TDN rules of equal parts that night, so just a bit more tonic would be even nicer i believe. And add just a small a sprinkle of fresh lime as well.
- 1 oz Mezcal
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Fevertree tonic water
Build over big chunks of ice.
But the best way to take full advantage of and enjoy all the complex flavours of a good mezcal is to sip it neat.
There´s something mysterious in the feel about mezcal, something ancient… and it transports you.