TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 4 – Before Man the Plant


Ron Cooper showing us a picture of a bowl of pulque.

And now comes the last part of my recap of the Tales this year and my last session to write about was all about agave – tequila and mezcal.

The session was moderated by Steve Olson and the panelists were  Paciano Cruz Nolasco, David Grapshi, David Suro-Pinera, Iván Saldaña, Misty Kalkofen, Phil Ward, Ron Cooper, Tomas Estes

This 3 hour long seminar was preceeded by a Del Maguey tasting which i also attended. There i did meet both Ron Cooper and also the maker of my favorite Del Maguey mezcals – the San Luis del Rio and the Crema, which contains San Luis del Rio.

it was an interesting tasting and some very fresh cocktails, my favorite was made with fresh muddled pineapple.

A pineapple and one of those wooden mallets i hope to find some day.

Mezcal cocktail extravaganza!

Roasted agave to chew on – it´s tasty.

In a 3 hour long session there´s a lot being said and there´s no way i can recap it all or even half of it. But we got to kearn a lot about agave spirits.

For example that withn the genus agave there´s 150- 300 different species and they are not related to the cactus but to plants like onions, palm trees, garlic, pineapples, aspargus and artichokes who belongs to the lilies.

By definition the agave is the biological reaction of adaption to stress..and has adopted all the ways and requirements needed to ensure it survive in harsh conditions.

Terroir – which is a french term to describe the natural conditions that affect the growing organism – can affect size, maturity, sugar maturation and even shape.  Terroir is soil, climate, year round temperatures, day and night humidity, wind, air quality and sun exposure.

And after terroir we have the final touch – the hand of the maker. Agave is a fascinating plant and so ancient…

In the state of Jalisco where 95% of all agaves are grown and tequila made, there are two regions producing two differerent taste profiles of tequila. First the tequila valley where the tequila is described as masculine (wine-term) earthy and herbacious while in the second – Los Altos the Jalisco (the highlands) the tequila is said to be feminine, round and fruity.

These are no exact descriptions, it´s only generality and does not apply to all tequilas in these two regions to fit into the descriptions. But terroir is becoming more and more important.

The word mezcal comes from the pre-hispanic nahuatl language. Metl meant “maguey” and mezcalmetl meant “roast maguey” The common used word for agave today in Oaxaca and most of Mexico is maguey. But when you point at the plant in the tequila region people say “mezcal”

I`m not going into how tequila and mezcal is made, i´ve posted about that before and there´s tons of info on the net, let´s just say it´s handcrafted spirits that goes deep back in it`s  history and the lives of the makers and that has lots of flavor!

Y`all just have to come down to the Tales next year and see the sessions for yourselves and taste some great spirits and cocktails. Next year is the 10th anniversary as well so expect a lot of activity…

Tastings tastings…

A mezcal clay cup – they are called copitas, it tastes better in them.

Ready to imbibe…

Thirsty? come to Tales 10 year anniversary next year!


Time to revisit the Coconaut which is a very nice Tiki drink. I wrote about it long ago and now its the 13th drink from Grog Log i stumble over. It contains only three ingredients – rum, lime and cream of coconut  (not coconut cream which is a different thing)

I like the coconut in all forms and yet i only use it occasionally, and i have tried without any success to figure out why since i really like it. Maybe some day i`ll find out.

So its rum, lime and coconut – a classic combination and such a simple drink really and very easy to play with – so let the fun begin!



8 oz Lopez Cream of Coconut

2 oz fresh lime juice

7 oz dark Jamaican rum (I broke down the recipe and used 1 oz Smith & Cross and 1 oz Pusser´s overproof)

Put everything into a blender and fill up with ice cubes and blend until slushy. This serves 2-4.

In Grog Log there´s also a flaming version called Coconaut Re-Entry using a flaming lime shell. You remove the pulp from the half lime shell and partly fill with overproof rum and ignite it. I´m gonna do that but with my own twist of this drink. I`m not gonna leave this drink now just when the fun has begun!



2 oz Cream of Coconut

0.5 oz fresh lime

1 oz Demerara rum

1 oz Lemon Hart 151

1/4 oz Kahlua Coffee Cream or other coffee liqueur

Proceed as with the Coconaut and set alight with some overproof rum in a lime shell.

Tasty, tasty, tasty! the Kahlua coffee cream added yummyness that goes very well with demerara rum.

Finally, the 2nd twist, let´s add some smoke now and see how that will taste. With smoke i mean mezcal and  i`m gonna use my favorite, the crema – made for women and a few strong men! (that´s what it says on the label) such a true thing!

And i love crema de mezcal, it´s so smooth, lightly smokey, creamy and mixes wonderfully.



A silly name i know.-) but that´s so appropriate in the Tiki world..

2 oz Cream of Coconut

1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1 oz Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal

0.5 oz fresh lime

1/4 Kahlua Coffee cream (again, but yes – i insist)

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup (Petit Canne)

Oh wow! if the other two were tasty but actually quite similar, this was a entirely different beast. The mezcal added depth, smoke, complexity and well…a bit of mysticism actually even if it sounds ridiculous.

I guess mezcal has that kinda thing to it and crema de mezcal is so smooth and mixing that with a thing like Kahlua coffee cream and good rum, well you sure are in for a tasty treat.

The downside is that Kahlua coffee cream is probably not available anymore unless they have made it a regular, since it was a limited edition that was launched around x-mas 2009. I used it since i need to make more use of the bottle i have. But any good coffee liqueur could be used here.

Well, rum, coconut, lime, coffee, mezcal – this was really yummy and how can you possibly go wrong with these ingredients?



At this years Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans I went to the mezcal tasting on the sunday. There was a new product there from Del Maguey to try which is their latest addition of single village mezcals, – the Vida.

Vida is primarily made for mixing, but it sips well and was made to be more affordable yet still made with premium handcrafted spirits and is produced without any chemicals or colorings and is distilled twice. Its made together with Paciano Cruz Nolasco who produces one of my favorites in the Del Maguey range, the San Luis del Rio, which – you also can find in the Crema which is the one I like the most.

Vida is produced exactly like it has been since 400 years according to the local tradition using small-batch distillation with only the agave heart and water in the mezcal, nothing else.

You`ll find all kinda flavors in this – honey and fruit, vanilla and roast agave…its smoky and spicy, sweet and sour.

OK, I think its time to mix something up..

And with these two drinks i`m trying to capture the summer and make it stay for just a little more…ignoring the cold temps outside…with that gentle little touch of smoke that you get from good mezcals.



1 oz Del Maguey Vida

1 oz green chartreuse

1 oz fresh pink grapefruit juice

0.5 oz fresh lime

0.5 oz Trader Tiki`s vanilla syrup

2 dashes Trader Tiki`s falernum bitters

Add ingredients to a glass full of crushed ice. Swizzle until the glass frost on the outside and garnish with a lime rose.



1 oz Del Maguey Vida

1 oz Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.25 oz sugar cane syrup (Petit Canne)

2 dashes Bittermen`s grapefruit bitters

2-3 dashes Bittermen`s Xocolatl Mole bitters

Top with Ting

Crushed ice

Lime for garnish

Shake all ingredients except Ting with ice and strain into a glass with crushed ice. Top up with Ting and garnish with a spiraled lime.

If you can`t find Ting, use another grapefruit soda or use fresh grapefruit juice.

How to make a spiraled lime:

Stick bamboo skewer through the lime from top to bottom. Then cut around the lime in a spiraled manner from top to the bottom and all the way in to the stick. Take out the skewer and carefully stretch out the spiraled lime a bit before placing it in the glass.

I think Vida is an excellent mezcal and I liked to mix it with the crema which adds a little bit extra creamy sweetness…

You can read more about Del Maguey mezcal here.

MEZCAL – Smoky Deliciousness

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 have written about mezcal before but i feel its time again, its such a nice and interesting spirit. 

The first time I tasted mezcal i knew it would have a smoky taste almost like a scotch, I also knew it was made form the agave plant – maguey and that it differs from how tequila is made in that the hearts of the agave plants are roasted in a underground owen and it´s that which gives the mezcal its smoky flavour. I wasn´t prepared though for the whole array of complex delisciousness that smooth like silk found its way to every part of my palate.

The whole process in making mezcal is very old, about 400 years and every step is time consuming as its made by hand and mezcal is a real slow-food product – this is how flavour is made. Its every step in the process from harvesting the heavy agave plants to roasting, fermenting and distilling.

There are many factors that affects the the final product -  altitude, water, air-microbes and finally the most important thing – time – that creates these amazing flavours – and the hand of the maker who adds their personal touch to their mezcal. An experienced mezcal taster can by the flavour of a mezcal tell in which single village it was made and by whom.

Mezcal (mes-kal) generally refers to all agave-based distilled liquors that are not tequila.Tequila is made only from the blue agave plant.Mezcals are made from 100% agave while tequilas must be produced from a minimum of 51% agave and there are several different varietes of agave used each producing a different flavor of mezcal. Espadín agave is used in the making of about 90% of the mezcal.

The word mezcal means “cooked maguey” and the word maguey is synonymous with agave which contrary to many beliefs isn´t a cactus but a relative to the Lily and Amaryllis.

There are several types of mezcal, and there is a broad range of quality in terms of smoothness, flavor nuances and smokiness. I have tried both good and bad mezcals and of those i`ve had the pleasure to enjoy I would recommend Del Maguey and Ilegal, their products are smooth and very tasty. Ilegal makes outstanding small batch handcrafted mezcal and Del Maguey makes equally outstanding mezcals from different tiny remote villages in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Each Del Maguey mezcal carries the name of the village where its produced.

What makes mezcal so special is that is so unique.There´s no other spirit that tastes anything like it and its also very regional. A well made mezcal doesn´t have a straight forward or offensive smokiness – rather its a light smokiness that lingers in the background and gently makes itself known backed up by a very complex orchestra of distinct earthy-spicy fruity and herbal flavours.

And then there´s something mysterious in the feel about mezcal, something ancient…

Its traditionally enjoyed neat but it also mixes very well -  especially in fresh fruit and spicy drinks. Mezcal has been suffering from the myth of the worm for a long time, but in the top shelf brands i`ve tried there´s no need for any worm in the bottle and you`ll not find any.

With this i have here four cocktails you can try:





1 oz mezcal

1 oz passionfruit juice

1/4 oz grenadine

1/4 oz orgeat

sprinkle of fresh lime

Garnish with a sugar rim

Rim the glass, then add everything except grenadine to a shaker and shake over ice, strain and pour into tumbler filled with fresh crushed ice and a few lime quarters. Add a splash of grenadine.



1.5 oz mezcal

0.75 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz Mozart Dry cocoa spirit or if you can`t find it, use coffee liqueur

1/4 oz orgeat

Shake and strain into a tumbler with crushed ice. Garnish with lime and mint.

Oh how the Mozart Dry makes this one taste special! Its the taste of pure cocoa without being cloingly sweet and it pairs really well with the mezcal.



1 oz mezcal

0.75 oz pineapple juice

1 barspoon coffee liqueur

1/4 oz orgeat

Shake and strain into a tumbler with crushed ice. For garnish i used a pineapple spear, zest of limequat and brandied cherry.

Btw did i mention that mezcal cocktails and spicy deep fried shrimps is a perfect match?



1 oz mezcal

1 oz tequila reposado

0.25 oz homemade hibiscus grenadine

0.25 oz orgeat, homemade too – by Trader Tiki!

0.5 oz fresh lime

0.5 small red chili pepper to muddle, cut in 4 pieces

Gently muddle the chili pepper with lime juice and orgeat and then add everything else except grenadine to a shaker and shake over ice, strain and pour into a tumbler filled with fresh crushed ice. Add grenadine and garnish with pieces of red chili pepper on top of the crushed ice and fresh mint.


MxMo XLVIII: Pain in the Ass Drinks!


This months Mixology Monday has a fun topic – pain in the ass drinks – hosted by McSology.

This Month’s Theme is: Drinks that are a total pain in the ass to make!

Pain in the ass drinks..sure i can deliver that;-) actually i have no less than three for this MxMo which urges us all to come up with the most laboursome drinks you can think of. But laboursome doesn´t mean that they aren`t tasty, rather the contrary – often you´ll be greatly rewarded.

Its definetily a good idea to make these i`ll post here at home when you have plenty of time.

I`m lucky to be a cocktail blogger. That permits me to mix up my drinks at any pace i want and stop mixing when i`ve had enough, or play with the most impossible ideas for garnish. Its fun – but even me takes shortcuts and avoid certain drinks more often than not, especially when i`m about to mix drinks that are not for a blog post.

As most people already know, the worst drinks to make are the TIKI cocktails – not all – but many, say 6 out of 10, something like that. Its not uncommon with 8-13 ingredients and of course normal simple syrup will not do -  you need to at least make sure you have orgeat, falernum, grenadine, Donn`s spices #2, several flavored syrups and various tinctures and drams – like pimento dram. Not to mention the amount of rums, liqueurs and other spirits that are needed, some in very small quantities like say – drops. (absinthe) But for how to master all these exotic drinks there`s help.

I haven`t yet mentioned the garnish these drinks very often require to be properly crowned.

My drinks for this MxMo aren´t any specific and known tiki drinks though, its actually a few twists on the Pina Colada which isn`t a tiki drink – but the way they are made puts them into the tiki cathegory of labour i think.

So if you are lazy stop reading.

The drinks here are a bit labourous yes – but not difficult. If you have the time to elaborate a bit you`ll be rewarded with tropical extravaganza.

The Pina Colada is a very nice drink and i like it a lot but i don´t make it very often, maybe it has to do with that i prefer coconut milk in cooking rather than drinking and for drinking when it comes to the coconut i prefer the green coconut water. Anyway, i decided to make a few twists of the pina colada and after some experimenting i came up with three coladas that basically are very similar yet very different.

Another thing in this post is that many measurements are quite approximate, i try to be exact when i can but it doesn´t always work out, especially not with these kind of drinks.



0.5 pineapple peeled and cored and cut into chunks. Save 2 chunks for the garnish along with 2 leaves. Puree the chunks and strain so you get fresh juice.

1.5 oz white rhum agricole
0.5 oz aged rhum agricole
2 oz coconut milk
2 oz fresh pineapple juice
1 oz tepache (made with an extra pinch of palmsugar)
4 cups ice

Blend in blender until smooth and pour into ice filled glass. Garnish with pineapple chunks and leaves.


The basic recipe for tepache or pineapple beer is sugar, water, and pineapple skins. Its a Mexican fermented pineapple drink traditionally made with fresh sugarcane juice – known as guarapo and spices. But you can make tepache with raw sugar as well as fresh sugarcane juice is hard to find in many places.

The key is to use a pineapple that is ripe.There are some ways to see if a pineapple is ripe and what not to do is to base your judgment on its colour. Instead pick it up and sniff at the base, it should smell sweet. Next, the leaves should be fresh and green and the leaves in the middle should be easy to pull out. If the pineapple has brown soft spots, leave it and find another, it should be firm.

So now you have found a ripe nice pinapple, here´s what to do next:

Peel with about half inch of pineapple flesh attached to peel. Then chop into 1 inch pieces.

8 – 12 cups water

2 cups raw unrefined sugar plus a tsp palmsugar dissolved in 1 cup very hot water. The palmsugar is optional, but i l´like the deep flavour it gives.

1 lime, juiced (optional)

8 ounces ginger root, cut into small chunks (optional) or a few cinnamon sticks, cloves, and/or star anise

Place peel, sugar and spices  in a one gallon container that has a cover. Add enough water to top it off and seal the container. Leave the bottles in a sunny or warm area minimum overnight and maximum 5 days (more days = more fizz) its a clear advantage to have warm temps (for the fermentation) so unless you live in a warm place do this in the summer. Then add the lime juice. To serve, chill in refrigerator.

The leftover of this tepache can be served as is or why not mix it with some rum? I think the tepache goes very well with the rest of ingredients in this colada, it adds a bit of a mellow spiciness.

The next colada is using Crema de Mezcal. You can use any good quality mezcal you like in it but i think the crema is the one for this drink – giving to it a smoky flavour and then using some roast coconut milk to combine adds some charred nuttiness:


05-1 pineapple peeled and cored and cut into chunks. Save 2 chunks for the garnish along with 1-2 leaves. Puree the chunks and strain so you get fresh juice.

1 oz reposado tequila
1 oz Del maguey Crema de Mezcal
2 oz roast coconut milk
2 oz fresh pineapple juice
1t orgeat
4 cups ice

Blend in blender until smooth and pour into ice filled glass or serve in pineapple shell. Garnish with roasted coconut chips (or why not a mezcal soaked cherry) and pineapple leaves.


Roast Coconut milk – Toast a handful of shaved fresh coconut chips until well brown and mix with 1 can lukewarm coconutmilk in blender, leave to sit for a while, then strain through cheesecloth.This is my own way to make it easier.

The traditional way to make roast coconut milk is to first roast chunks of fresh coconut in a charcoal fire until blackened on all sides.Then brush off the charred exterior and grate the flesh before adding it into a bowl and add 2 cups of lukewarm water. Then squeeze and knead the coconut thoroughly for 1 minute, then strain through cheesecloth into a bowl to obtain thick coconut milk. Probably the traditional way makes for a tastier roast coconut milk but i haven`t tried as i have no place to make a fire. There`s a lot of yummy flavours in this drink, the agave from the tequila and mezcal plus the smoke, roast coconut milk, almond and pineapple.

The task of opening a coconut, shave the flesh and toast it may seem laboursome but it actually isn´t, here is a link on how to do it easily.



The last colada is flavoured with baked banana honeycream. That is a mixture of baked banana, honey, sugar and water. It was used in a cocktail comp in Copenhagen and their version used water not cream. But in this drink i use heavy cream instead of water to cream it up with the coconut milk.

Here`s how to do it: Bake your bananas in the oven untill they get a bit of color and blend it with equal parts honey and heavy cream, add a bit of  sugar ( i used muscovado) to bring out the banana and reduce it in a pan.

0.5 pineapple peeled and cored and cut into chunks. Save 2 chunks for the garnish along with 1-2 leaves.
1.5 oz rhum agricole blanc
0.5 oz JWray overproof
2 oz  coconut milk
2 oz fresh pineapple juice
1 tsp baked banana honey cream
4 cups ice
Hibiscus tincture (optional, just for that little extra ( labour)

Blend in blender until smooth and pour into ice filled glass. Garnish with the pineapple chunks, and pineapple leaf and a few dashes hibiscus tincture for a little extra flavor contrast and color.

Hibiscus tincture

Mix 1oz crushed dried hibiscus flowers (jamaica) with 5oz highproof grain spirit or overproof rum like JWray and leave for a few days, then strain and bottle. Use it in drops.

To play further with these coladas you may use vanilla beans, demerara rum, muscovado sugar, cinnamon syrup, cachaca, macadamia nut syrup, Trader Tiki`s syrups to name a few ingredients.

Have fun! thanks Mike for hosting with a fun topic!

COCKTAILS WITH MEZCAL part 3 – Fresh herbs


– Basil

Its so much fun to experiment with mezcal in cocktails as it has so much flavour of its own -  earhty, vegetal and then it also has that interesting smokiness which truly adds another dimension.

Many flavours naturally fits together and after a while with trial and errors you more or less learn which flavours marries well and which doesn`t, and even if taste is something personal in general those flavour combinations that are natural companions (and these often also comes from in the same type of climate or area)  goes best together.

When i experiment with flavours i try to look for either matching or contrasting – like when you paint a room and paint one wall in a contrasting colour which sticks out but in the end still harmonizes with the rest of the room. Something like that.

Naturally mezcal pairs with the same things that tequila goes well with such as citrus fruits, agave syrup (and other syrups like for example balsamic syrup which has an earthy flavour) spices like ginger, fresh herbs, peppers like jalapeno, habanero and ancho to name a few. And believe it or not but mezcal pairs very well with Campari – another of my favorite libations.

I`m very fond of fresh ingredients and at the farmers market (which here is only open once a year (!) for a few weeks i think it is) i picked up two varietes of basil i haven´t tried before, cinnamon basil and ararat basil. The cinnamon basil has green leaves and look somewhat like thai basil but i was surprised that the flavour was so strong and so crisp fresh! it has stronger flavour than the thai basil. I didn´t exactly pick up any pronounced cinnamon flavour but it did have something spicy.

The ararat basil looked different, its leaves are variegated in green and purple and it has a slight anis taste and is not as strong and pungent as the cinnamon variety. The cinnamon basil plants had flowers on them as well, very pretty.

So my first experiment with these basil plants and mezcal was to muddle a few chunks of fresh pineapple with both types of basil and some simple syrup. A flavoured syrup here would only disturb the other flavours i think. Then i added mezcal, fresh lime and to boost the hint of anise from the ararat basil i added 1 tiny tsp of absinthe. To crown the drink and add aroma i garnished with sprigs of the ararat basil and the blooming cinnamon basil.

Don`t neglect the garnish in those kind of drinks where garnish may add completeness and a feast for the eye. Before we drink with our mouths we drink with our eyes.

Here´s the recipe:



2 oz mezcal

1t absinthe

A handful of fresh pineapple chunks and a handful of basil, preferably two different varietes

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

Crushed ice

Muddle pineapple, basil and syrup in shaker, be gentle with the basil so start with the pineapple. Add mezcal and absinthe. Shake and strain into a glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

– Thyme

One of my favorite herbs, thyme is lovely and it has such a fresh yet “grassy” aroma, everytime i get fresh thyme i bury my nose in it. This experiment includes muddled thyme and honeysyrup, pineapple infused mezcal and habanero infused tequila, some fresh lime, a little Ting and finally a mezcal soaked cherry to enjoy when the drink is finised.

Both Ting and thyme is common use in Jamaica and married with the Mexican flavours ut turns out fresh and flavourful at least to my palate but i don`t claim to be an expert on flavours, just a happy experimenter.

The best part in making cocktails is the playing with flavours and trying out the result or letting others imbibe it and give their opinion (hopefully they like it) and the worst part is naming the drink. I hate to try to name cocktails sometimes, its so hard! Camper once said that if i didn`t take so long to name my drinks i would get much more things done in life – i think that was fun..well finally i came up with this:


1 oz pineapple infused mezcal

1 oz habanero infused tequila reposado

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz honey syrup

Fresh thyme

Ting to top

Garnish sprig of thyme.

Muddle the thyme and honey, then add the tequila and mezcal. Squeeze a half lime and shake, strain into a ice filled collins glass. Top with a little Ting (Jamaican grapefruit beverage). Garnish with a fresh aromatic sprig of thyme.

Sugarcane bar


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