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
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?