Like I said last week, Tequila is pretty perfect for spring. But Tequila isn’t the only agave spirit out of Mexico that’s pretty good this time of year. We’re talking about Mezcal! Mezcal has been popular among cocktail nerds for years, but it still hasn’t caught on among the wider drinking public. But I’m a big fan, so I wanted to show off another way of approaching Mexican spirits before Cinco de Mayo. This Passion Fruit Mezcal Sling combines the tropical tartness of passionfruit, the smokiness of Mezcal, and Campari for a drink that is more tropical and exotic than your average margarita. –Andrew
Passionfruit Mezcal Sling
2 oz Silver Mezcal
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup*
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Campari
To make the passion fruit syrup: combine equal parts passion fruit juice and raw sugar in a sauce pan. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until all the sugar is melted. Bottle and refrigerate.
Combine everything in a cocktail shaker filled two-thirds with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and enjoy!
This is a refreshing, lively cocktail, with lots of tropical fruit and verdant vegetal notes. There’s a definite smokiness, but, paired with the Campari, comes across more as an exotic complexity than an in-your-face edge. The Campari gives the drink a bit of bitterness on the finish, which helps balance the sweetness of the passion fruit syrup.
Mezcal is, like Tequila, made from the agave plant, a relative of aloe. (Technically, Mezcal covers all agave spirits, and Tequila is a subset of Mezcal, but we’re not going to get too deeply into this.) Mezcal is made from the heart of the agave plant, which is cooked in earthen pits, lending Mezcal the same sort of smokiness that Scotch whiskey gets from burning peat to dry malted barley. The agave is then crushed and mashed, traditionally with a horse-drawn stone, and then fermented and distilled.
Mezcal has the same sorts of earthy vegetal notes as Tequila, along with a luscious smokiness. It’s a spirit that pairs well with lime, tropical fruit, melon, and cucumber, the sorts of flavors that bring out a fresh, almost juicy character from the Mezcal. So, when mixing a drink in a few days to celebrate all things Mexico, consider trying Mexico’s other great spirit.
*A quick note about passion fruit syrup: Passion fruit syrup is most properly made by simmering the juice with the pulp of whole passion fruit, which are tiny and hard to come by and difficult to work with. If you’d like to use pre-made passion fruit syrup, we like the syrups from BG Reynolds and Liber & Co. But if you’d like to try making your own syrup, follow the directions above for a version that is much easier to make!
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Glassware by Liquorary
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper
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