By Lanee Lee, Foodable Contributor
Mezcal, the oldest spirit in North America, is one of the ‘newest’ spirits of choice in the city’s craft cocktail scene.
Known as tequila’s mysterious older brother, mezcal is distilled from agave, similar to tequila, yet vastly different.
Mezcal’s distinction lies in the hundreds of varietals of agave it can be made from (tequila can only use blue agave) and how the juices from the agave heart (piña) are extracted. With mezcal, the piña is smoked in an underground pit and steamed for tequila making. Also, origin plays into the differences as well: mezcal is made mostly in the state of Oaxaca, tequila primarily in the state of Jalisco.
Because of mezcal’s smoky quality, much like a peaty Scotch, it’s trickier than silver tequila to create a balanced cocktail. Whether it’s your first go with mezcal or you’re a maniac mezcal lover, here’s where to head for the best mezcal cocktails in L.A. by some of the city’s most notable barkeeps:
1. Macho Man Shandy Savage by Julian Cox: Single Village Mezcal, citrus juice, agave nectar, Combier, IPA beer, and savory anticucho marinade
2. Grommit by Holly Zack: Mezcal, white rum, velvet falernum, blackberry liqueur, lime
3. The Zapatero, by Jeremy Lake: A seasonal take on an Old Fashioned. El Silencio Mezcal, oregat, angostura bitters, Fee Brothers Aztec bitters and Booker’s bourbon
4. Running with the Devil by Dave Kupchinsky: Mezcal, Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur, coffee-infused Campari, Carpano Antica, snake oil. When I asked Kupchinsky what the ‘snake oil’ was made of, he simply said it was a secret.
5. El Güey Aguanta by Jason Eisner: Mezcal, rice milk horchata, vanilla cinnamon syrup, crushed ice, grated canela. Plus, an extensive premium mezcal menu and mezcal flights are on hand.
Plan Check (Fairfax Village)
6. Health Kick by Matt Biancaniello: Aquavit, Xicaru mezcal, lime juice, Monin agave syrup, fresh celery juice, and a pinch of salt
7. Spanish Bull by Jason Bran and Damian Windsor: Tequila, Mezcal, Cointreau, orange Juice and carrot juice
8. Los Muertos by Raul Yrastorza: Metl Reposado Mezcal, Nonino Amaro, Amaro Ciociaro, orange bitters, Angostura mist, Marasca. Plus, Las Perlas offers mezcal flights and largest mezcal menu in L.A.
9. Oaxacalifornia Love by Deysi Alvarez: Vida mezcal, espolon blanco, fresh lime juice, pineapple rocoto gomme
Upstairs Rooftop (ACE Hotel)
10. Kentucky Mai-Tai by Dan Sabo: Bourbon, mezcal, lemon, Liquor de Peche, Cynar, orgeat
11. Spicy Oaxaca by Roberto Gamboa: Los Javis Repasado Mezcal, Fresh Jalapeno, Agave and Liquor D’Orange, warm salt rim
Is there a mezcal concoction you’re obsessed with that we missed? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!