COCKTAILS WITH MEZCAL part 2 – JALISCO SMOKE

In this second post in my series about cocktails with mezcal it starts with tequila:

After a visit to the Cocktail Chronicles this spring reading the recipe for the tequila libation ”Flor de Jalisco” made by Death & Co bartender Joaquin Simo, this cocktail caught my attention and sparkled my appetite. I made one and it was so nice, it`s easy to mix yet it does have that little extra omph. Then on my recent trip to the US and the Tales in New Orleans in july ending up in New York i visited Death & Co and among a range of great cocktails i also tried this one and i was not dissapointed – it was lovely.

I very much like tequila – it has a wonderful flavour and it mixes so nicely with fresh fruits and spices – my fav mixers.

FLOR DE JALISCO

2 oz tequila blanco

0.75 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz agave syrup

1 tsp orange marmalade

Shake and strain into chilled coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Back home i decided to have some fun and play with it and make it differently and so i added bitter seville orange marmalade instead, a reposado instead of blanco, lime instead of lemon, dried hibiscus flower rim and a dash rich cinnamon syrup. (2:1 demerara sugar, water and cinnamon stick)

Then i added a float of mezcal.

JALISCO SMOKE

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2 oz tequila reposado ( i used XQ reposado)

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz rich cinnamon syrup

1 small tsp bitter seville orange marmalade

Float mezcal (I used Del Maguey San Luis Del Rio)

Rim the glass with crushed dried hibiscus flowers, or rim half. Shake, strain and serve  with crushed ice and garnish with a spiraled lime.

It looks like a Margarita but isn´t. A spiraled lime you get by inserting a chopstick through the lime and then you just cut around it in a spiral manner from the top end to the bottom and then take out the stick. The only thing i would like to change is the hibiscus rim, i would like to make it into powder instead.

Its fun how you can play with flavors by switching one or more of the ingredients and get a totally different drink and that`s the whole point of this post apart from sharing my passion for mixing with mezcal.

In my first post on cocktails with mezcal it was the only base spirit but here it plays a different role and is used as a float together with tequila as the base– i think it has a nice effect. Its really fun to use mezcal because of its rich flavours and smokiness, and there´s so many things you can do – mix, float, rinse, rim, spray…and mixing with both tequila and mezcal is fun, wonderfully tasty as well as economical.

COCKTAILS WITH MEZCAL part 1 – Old Ancho Cocktail

old-ancho-cocktail

I`m going to start a new series – cocktails with mezcal. The reason for doing this is that i think mezcal deserves to be used much more in cocktail mixing, its such a nice spirit. Actually its used quite much now compared to before and that is a good thing, but i have never yet seen it in my country. And even though you really should experinece the full flavours of mezcal by sipping it (its very nice in clay cups) it makes nice mixed drinks.

So i`m going to post cocktails using mezcal, hoping that more will try to mix with it. Mezcal is a real handcrafted spirit distilled from fermented juice of the pineapple-shaped core, the piña – of the agave plant. These cores are roasted in earthen mounds as opposed to cooked as is the practice in tequila making, to simplify it. And the distinctive woody smokiness of the mezcal comes from this roasting.

The smokiness can maybe be a challenge to get used to but premium mezcals like Del Maguey and Ilegal has a light smokiness that is not offensive. And the smokiness adds a very interesting punch –  a little smoke and fire to a drink.

The herbal flavours of the agave and the earthy smoke from the roasting pairs really well with fruity flavours making sure you definetily won´t get a boring drink. If you have had bad mezcal as your first experience of this wonderful spirit, give it a new try – with a premium brand.

I have a tendency to use a lot of fresh fruit juices in my drinks so i`m not even sure this cocktail will do the mezcal enough justice. On the other hand –  it has a lot of smokiness that stands up well to most mixers. So here is the first cocktail with mezcal which i call Old Ancho.

To this cocktail i have made a ancho-chili syrup. The anco chili is really a dried poblano as they are referred to poblano when they are fresh. The ancho is dried, a reddish brown, flat and wrinkled chili and sweetest of the dried chilis originating in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The word ancho means “wide” in Spanish. Fresh poblanos are also sold under the name pasilla.

There´s another variety of dried poblano which is called mulato chile and which is darker in color,  sweeter and also softer in texture. Its heat rating is 2,500 to 3,000 Scoville units. (compared to ancho which is 1000-1500) The mulato has been described as tasting somewhat like chocolate or licorice, with undertones of cherry and tobacco. (mmm….)

The anco chile has a sweet slighly hot and earthy flavor. It is commonly used in Mexican cooking and is a staple in red chili and tamales.

The flavor in this syrup came out very nice, the palmsugar in it played well with the earhy flavor of the ancho, but to not have the palmsugar flavor overpowering the syrup i also used an equal part light raw sugar.To make this syrup you need 1:1 palmsugar and light raw sugar and i used a 2:1 ratio sugar to water. Then you need one large dried ancho chili. I only made a small batch this time.

ANCHO CHILI SYRUP

1 large dried ancho chili
1 dl light raw sugar (I used oxfam)
1 dl palmsugar
2 dl water

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I boiled this in my pan for about 10 minutes, then the chili seeds started to fall out. I let it boil a bit more and tasted. The flavor wasn´t very hot at all so i let it boil for another 3-4 minutes and tasted again. Now the seeds had given a bit of a hot flavor so i took it off and strained out the seeds. I also took out remaining seeds from the chili.

Then i put it all back again on the stove to simmer for another 4 miutes before i took it off to cool. The flavor was now a little bit hot but not too much, earthy, spicy and raw sugar sweet, just perfect.

The mezcal cocktail i made is a fruity and spicy twist on the mojito adding the ancho syrup instead of sugar and topped with Tonic water.

OLD ANCHO COCKTAIL

1.5 oz mezcal
1 lime, quartered
0.75 oz ancho chili syrup
5-6 mint leaves
Top with a good quality tonic

Muddle lime, mint and ancho syrup in shaker. Add mezcal and shake over ice. Strain into a cocktailglass with crushed ice. Top with tonic. Garnish mint and a speared ancho chili.

The mezcal and the acho syrup goes well together i think even though the mezcal somewhat overpowers the flavors of the syrup due to its smokiness. Nevertheless these two are friends. I find this cocktail quite refreshing. The ice also mellows the flavours a bit.

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Sugarcane bar

MEZCAL – DEL MAGUEY

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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.

Its a long time i wanted to try out Del Maguey mezcals and at the Tales i got my chance during their session Agavepalooza. I also got my chance to finally bring home the samples which were laying about in the US with this beautifully handcrafted spirit from the villages in Oaxaca, Mexico using old traditional methods. I was amazed to learn that even airborne microbes at different levels in the air affects the flavour of the mezcal.

In this video Ron Cooper from Del Maguey explains the myths and the seven factors that affects the quality and flavor of the mezcal. You should really watch this video, its very interesting.

In short, those seven factors are the following:

Plant Species – there are about a dozen maguey plants that produces good mezcal, so the plant variety is important as each one gives different flavours.

Altitude – its here the airborne microbes plays their role and at every 300 feet up (100m) its different species of microbes. These airborne microbes affects the fermenting. In commercial tequila and mezcal production chemicals are used but in the production of Del Maguey they wait between 4-30 days to let the airborne microbes start the fermenting.

The soil – Different soils are used, and soil definetily adds a flavour component. Del Maguey uses a soil type that is called tierra amaria. Its a well drained granite-rich soil thus letting the water drain off fast which is very important as water from the soil is not good for the maguey as water through the roots and up in the plant makes it bitter. Instead the plants opens up its poores in the night and absorbs moisture.

Wood – the kind of wood that is used to heat the rocks that roast the hearts on gives off different flavours.

Water – the water of the village also has a flavour effect and the water is used after the hearts are ground and everything is placed in tanks or vats. Different village waters affects the flavours.

The hand of the maker – This is that magic personal touch that every producer of mezcal adds to the product and its possible to by blind tasting tell which village and which specific producer has made a certain mezcal.

Time – is one of the most important factors in a good mezcal – as mezcal is a real slow-food product – this is how flavour is made.

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DEL MAGUEY MEZCAL

Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is produced in different tiny remote villages in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico and each Del Maguey mezcal carries the name of the village where its produced. Only two ingredients are used – water and the heart of the maguey (agave) plant.The traditions used in the production are over 400 years old.

Over hot stones the hearts are roasted in a pit in the ground, covered with banana leaves, woven palm-fiber mats or other plant material and finally earth for 3-5 days absorbing flavors from the earth and wood smoke and oils on the rocks.

After roasting the pinas are removed from the pit and being rested covered by palm mats in the shade for a week – they begin to ferment naturally with the help of airborne microbes.

The roasted hearts are then ground by horse-power into a mash followed by a long natural fermentation period in wooden vats – its here the water of the village plays its role as well as its own yeasts and microbes. Then its slowly distilled twice – in wood-fired clay or copper stills.

The mezcal has both social, ceremonial and medical uses among the villagers and is very highly esteemed.

I received four samples of Del Maguey mezcals and i`ll try to describe them as good as i can:

CHICHICAPA

Made in the village of Chichicapa south of Oaxaca, this mezcal has a lightly earthy nose. It has a earthy flavour too with a hint of smoke and which stays long with you. Its also a bit sweet, a very nice mezcal indeed. Its like a premium all-round mezcal good for both sipping and mixing.

CREMA DE MEZCAL

This one is my favorite, it`s hands down outstanding with a full creamy flavour and a hint of smoke lingering in the background and which slowly grows on you. I spent the entire last night in New York sitting on a rooftop terrace under the stars sharing a bottle of this awesome mezcal with a good friend and so I have fond memories linked with it as well. Its so easy to sip it…. According to Del Maguey this mezcal is made “for women only – and a few strong men”.

Its made in Oaxaca and is a combination of Miel de Maguey (unfermented syrup of the roast agave) and Mezcal San Luis del Rio. I cannot enough recommend this one.

SAN LUIS DEL RIO

Omg..this one is NICE! no wonder Crema de Mezcal is so tasty if it has this one in it. Its earthy, its deep, its spicy and a bit of smoke. Its citrusy too in the nose, so pleasant and my second favorite of these four awesome mezcals.

San Luis del Rio is appr 8000 feet above sea level and south of Oaxaca.

SANTO DOMINGO ALBARRADAS

This mezcal is pretty light and also fruity with a hint of the typical smoke. Its as smooth as the others, very nice and flavourful. If I were to mix with this one I would be careful to not use too much other flavours but rather mix with few ingredients.

Santo Domingo Albarradas is located at high altitude in the high Mixe (Mee-Hay) region south of Oaxaca.

OVERAL IMPRESSION

Well what can i say? Del Maguey is the top notch of mezcals. Of course I haven`t tried all mezcals but Del Maguey is good. In New Orleans I also tried the Tobala which is made from wild Maguey that grows in the shade of oak trees at high altitude. The Tobala is sweet and fruity as well as spicy.

Another interesting mezcal I tried was the Pechuga – triple distilled – which is made with wild mountain apples and plums and is only made by the end of the year when these are in season. Other things they add is pineapples, red plantains, figs, almonds, hazelnuts and uncooked white rice.

Furthermore – and this is interesting – a whole chicken breast with skin removed is suspended by strings hanging over the still for 24 hrs and this is the final 3rd distillation.The vapor passes over the chicken breast and condenses it to a clear liquid and only the bones remain. My memory of tasting it is that it was good – no surprise – and spicy, smoky and nope – I didn`t detect any chicken flavour in it but maybe others do.

I like the colorful labels on the bottles too, a bit childlike, very happy and gets me to think about sunshine.

The only final conclusion I can make is that I must try to get more Del Maguey mezcals and never be out of the Crema.

Mezcal is traditionally sipped, and a good mezcal is indeed a wonderful sipper but is also more and more used in cocktail mixing – and that`s part of the reason why i write about cocktails with mezcal as I think it deserves to be used much more. It`s also a very interesting spirit to work with and adds an interesting flavour and may also be floated, rimmed etc.

I recently made a batch of the hibiscus tisane that is called jamaica and I wanted to try it with mezcal, lime and agave syrup. Its a very simple cocktail with only natural ingredients where the mezcal adds some fire and smoke to the tangy lime and jamaica.

SMOKY CLOUD

jamaica-cloud-cocktail

The name comes from that the mezcal is produced in Oaxaca, which is the historic home of the Zapotec and Mixtec peoples – mixtec meaning “place of the cloud-people”.

2 oz Del Maguey mezcal chichicapa
¼ oz agave syrup
¼  oz bitter seville orange syrup
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
Top with Jamaica

Shake over ice and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a speared orange wedge and a lime twist.

This cocktail turned out to be very light, fruity and refreshing with a punch of smoke from the mezcal. You may also use just agave or simple syrup if you dont want to make your own bitter seville orang syrup which is very simply made by making a simple syrup with 1:1 (or 2.1 if you prefer) light raw cane sugar and water, then adding 5-6 tblsp of bitter seville orange marmalade. Then cook it for a while , cool and strain.

As for the jamaica just follow the recipe here. If you cannot find hibiscus flowers to make your own jamaica you could use just orange juice or maybe something different like cranberry or pomegranate?

JAMAICA

2 cups water to 2 handful of dried hibiscus flowers
3 oz agave syrup
Boil for 5 minutes
Cool for 2 hrs

When cool, strain and bottle.

If you get a chance to try Del Maguey just do it.

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There´s something mysterious in the feel about mezcal, something ancient… and it transports you.

NEW BLOG POST ON MIXOLOSEUM – MEZCAL

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Check out my new blog post on the Mixoloseum blog – and read about mezcal and sample a refreshing summer cocktail..

The nose of the mezcal reaches me, its earhty…and smoky…but not overwelmingly so, in a  pleasant way that invites you to take a sip.

EARTH, HERBS AND SMOKE

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The mezcal and chartreuse has a herbal-earthy and pleasantly smoky love-affair. The fresh pink grapfruit and lime sings their praises. Its definetily a summer drink, the hotter the summer the better is this drink, well chilled with lots of ice

Sample the recipe here:

http://blog.mixoloseum.com