i never did get back to talking about our wanderings at lesley's cocktail classic a few weekends ago, and that's a damn shame, as it was an especially good weekend for mezcal. in case i haven't bored you to death with my mezcal speech lately, let me summarize by saying we don't drink the kitschy, face-melty stuff packaged with a worm; i refuse beverages with pickled creatures in them, for one thing, and i'm also not a fan of cheap agave spirits. i'm actually not a fan of most fancy agave spirits (sorry, tequila), but single village mezcal is a thing of beauty: it's smoky, robust, and wonderfully phenolic. gives you a fine spreading chest-warmth, like a good scotch will. it's the ultimate slow beverage (in many villages, both the palenqueros and the horses turning their agave-heart-grinding wheels were born nearby), but it's affable and unpretentious. i feel strongly about it.

our cocktail classic weekend began with a three-thousand-person gala at the public library and ended upstairs at mayahuel in the east village. it was a long afternoon: andy seymour greeted us with glasses as we walked in, and we were served three more cocktails and five wee clay cups of mezcal in the course of the presentation (joe and i were the only civilians present, i think: everyone else was a bartender, importer, or restauranteur of some sort, and i now have a small, impressive collection of acutely festive business cards). far be it from me to go all creepy evangelist on you - i have zero stake in the rest of the world appreciating mezcal, unless it's to lay the groundwork for me to discover it in friends' liquor cabinets at parties in years to come - but internet, seek it on drink menus and shell out for some if you discover it near you (del maguey is unimpeachable, and los danzantes is also good). it's excellent neat, and the four cocktails we had at mayahuel (below) were all good; the very last one, the oaxacan punch, is the best damn cocktail i've had in years. it wins THUNDERTIPPLE hands down.

salsa verde (by andy seymour, aka wine geek)

1-3/4 oz. del maguey vida mezcal
1-1/4 oz. fresh cucumber juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. agave nectar
fresh cilantro

put 6 cilantro leaves in a mixing glass; add remaining ingredients and fill with ice. shake hard and strain over crushed ice in a highball glass. garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

el zachilla (by john lermayer, the florida room at the delano, miami)

1-1/4 oz. el tesoro reposado
3/4 oz. del maguey chichicapa mezcal
3/4 oz. benedictine
4 dashes grapefruit bitters
squeeze of lime juice

combine all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice. stir to chill and strain into a coupe cocktail glass.

division bell (by phil ward, mayahuel)

1 oz. del maguey chichicapa mezcal
3/4 oz. aperol
3/4 oz. luxardo maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz. lime juice

combine all ingredients in a mixing glass; fill with ice and shake. strain into a coupe cocktail glass and garnish with a grapefruit peel.

oaxacan milk punch (by danny valdez, cocktailian nola, new orleans)

1-1/4 oz. del maguey crema de mezcal
1 oz. vsop cognac
2 oz. handmade horchata
fresh grated nutmeg

combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. shake vigorously and strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass. garnish with fresh nutmeg.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 had any fantastically good (or fantastically awful) cocktails lately?

02 what'd you drink over the long weekend, alcoholic or otherwise?

03 if you were to teach the world to drink, what sort of booze would you promote?


Uncle paul said...

Have you had a caipirinha? It's, er, Palo Alto that just introduced us.

kidchamp said...

i have, and quite liked it. i'm fairly new to cacha├ža, but have been meaning to learn more about it. seems like the sort of thing val and grant could be delegated to explore? are you folks settled down in paly now, or are you still at the house of the fig tree? 

rachel (heart of light) said...

Mmmmm... will need to check this out.

1. Yes! A desert bramble (good tequila + just a few perfect blackberries + a squeeze of lemon juice, on ice). Also, a grapefuit rickey, which had vodka,St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lemon and grapefruit juice. NOT too sweet, which is my pet peeve with poorly made mixed drinks.

2. Rose sangria, beer.

3. Whiskey. Good, peaty whiskey for sipping. Rye and ginger for summer balcony parties.

east side bride said...

2. Had a few sips of a dirty martini in the bath last night while I watched the season finale of Grey's.


LPC said...

01 Sauvignon blanc. Also 02 and 03.

Katherine Cortes said...

02: Seattle lived up to its dreary rep over the holiday, so when the sun finally decided to peep through on Monday afternoon E & I & our neighbor Melanie exploded into our scrap of front yard to drink sweet tea vodka (Firefly is better than the off-brand we tried), examine the pea shoots. and crush aphids.

Uncle paul said...

We found an apartment but have not yet put anything inside. The girls turn the color of a / tangerino / when they see me driving down / El Camino.

Celia said...

when my ass has not gotten any smaller by the end of the summer, i'll make sure to blame it on that oaxacan milk punch. 

03 fernet branca, sipped neat (yeah, i went there)

Hovav said...

Motivated by your post, I finally had my local store order me a bottle of mezcal.  (I went with the Minero.)  It's awesome but ... different.  I'm surprised by how many of the recipes cut it with tequila.  Too strong?  Too expensive?

01 A Cynar Flip: Cynar, egg, grated nutmeg.

03 Italian amari.  Yes, Fernet Branca, but also Cynar, which is in a bunch of my favorite drinks, like the Little Italy (rye, Cynar, sweet vermouth; Audrey Saunders, Pegu Club) and the Art of Choke (white rum, Cynar, green Chartreuse, lime, simple, mint; Kyle, The Violet Hour).

kidchamp said...

ooh, the minero was really good! per my notes from ron cooper, that one's made in a low valley with sandy soil, in clay stills with bamboo tubing; the lack of copper, which can soften the corners of the mezcal, gives it the super-high acidity. he also told a story about how no one speaks the native language in the village any more because of some horrible connection between colonialists and tongue removal, but i don't have details on that part of the background. not sure why it's cut with tequila; perhaps that smoky tone gets overwhelming in large quantities. it is pretty expensive, though that doesn't stay bartenders' hands around here, i find.

that art of choke sounds marvelous; will hunt down some cynar posthaste (and try a bit neat for celia as well).

Hovav said...

Yup, that's the Minero.  That's an awfully morbid story about the native language -- unsurprising that it's not on his promotional Website!

In re Cynar and the Art of Choke: yay!  Rum isn't always my favorite (DeVoto: "Let us candidly admit that there are shameful blemishes on the American past, of which by far the worst is rum"), but I really like this drink.  The recipe: http://chicagohappyhour.com/tvh/0035.html

I tend to take the mint out after bruising it in the alcohol and before adding the ice to stir, but then I like it balanced with relatively low mintiness ...