6 Innovative Mezcal Cocktails And Its History

6 Innovative Mezcal Cocktails And Its History

Recently, mezcal has skyrocketed in popularity and is expected to jump another 18% in sales by the end of the year. With demand for the smoky spirit higher than ever, mezcal cocktails are quickly taking over the bar scene. This agave spirit’s popularity has inspired countless mezcal variations on classic cocktails. Even if you’ve never tried mezcal, you’ve probably heard the rumors: ‘It’s not mezcal unless there’s a worm in the bottle’ and ‘Mezcal makes you hallucinate like absinthe.’ Contrary to popular belief, mezcal does not always come with worms, nor does it boast hallucinogenic properties.

Born 500 years ago when the Spanish conquerors first arrived in Mexico, mezcal has the distinct honor of being the first distilled spirit in the Americas. All these years later, the spirit is still produced using the same traditional method. In fact, to be considered a true mezcal, it must be made this way and produced in one of the following regions in Mexico: Durango, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, or Zacatecas.

To produce mezcal, mature agave plants are harvested by removing their piñas with a machete and cooking them in pit ovens for roughly three days. Once the piñas have finished cooking, they are crushed and fermented in large barrels with water. The resulting fermented liquid is then distilled twice in copper pots to increase the alcohol content. There are three types of mezcal, each determined by the aging process. 

  • Joven (“young”) – Bottled immediately after distillation
  • Reposado (“rested”) or añejado (“neglected”) – Aged in wooden barrels for two to nine months
  • Añejo (“aged”) – Aged in wooden barrels for a minimum of 12 months

Like many other spirits, the characteristics of mezcal vary depending on the type and price range. However, mezcal is unique in that the change in flavor is caused by the specific type of agave used to make it. Mezcal can be produced with 11 variations of agave grown in Oaxaca. While the spirit is best known for its notoriously smoky flavor, high-end mezcal is amber-colored and smooth. Cheap mezcal, on the other hand, has no color and will probably burn as it goes down. This is also the kind of mezcal you would likely find a worm in, though the “worm” is actually a moth larva. They say you get what you pay for, so keep that in mind when shopping for mezcal!

1. Naked and Famous

Naked And Famous Mezcal Yellow Chartreuse Aperol And Lime Juice Cocktail
Photo by @bhofack2

The Naked and Famous is an iconic mezcal cocktail made with equal parts mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Aperol, and fresh lime juice. It’s a perfectly balanced sipper that boasts smoky, sweet, bitter, and refreshing citrus flavors. This modern classic is great for enjoying during happy hour or at dinner parties and guarantees to impress from the very first sip. 

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2. Mexican Tricycle

Mexican Tricycle Cocktail With Mezcal Cynar Amaro And Cider
Photo by @sutteerug

The Mexican Tricycle is made with mezcal, Cynar, and hard apple cider for a delightfully refreshing low-proof cocktail. Notes of lime, apple, deep smoke, and bitter herbs blend together in a symphony of flavor. You can alter the flavor profile by opting for a sweeter or drier cider, making this the perfect mezcal cocktail to experiment with until you’ve met your match.

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3. Ultima Palabra

Ultima Palabra Cocktail With Mezcal Green Chartreuse Maraschino Liqueur And Lime Juice
Photo by @mllebasinet

Ultima Palabra is Spanish for “Last Word” and is a playful mezcal twist on the classic cocktail. Made with equal parts mezcal, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice, this well-balanced cocktail is refreshingly tart and sweet with notes of smoke and bitterness to round it out. If you’re trying mezcal for the first time, the Ultima Palabra makes a fantastic introduction. 

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4. Oaxaca Old Fashioned

Oaxaca Old Fashioned With Mezcal Reposado Tequila And Agave Syrup
Photo by @cocktailbart

For lovers of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, the Oaxaca Old Fashioned is a must-try. This smoky sipper is Oaxaca’s ode to the agave plant and comprises three agave elements: smooth reposado tequila, smoky mezcal, and sweet agave syrup. The result? A beautifully balanced mezcal cocktail that tastes so good, you won’t miss the whiskey.

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5. Division Bell

Division Bell Cocktail With Mezcal Aperol Amaro Maraschino Liqueur And Lime Juice
Photo by @nananafuzimi

Inspired by the Last Word cocktail, the Division Bell is a deliciously refreshing drink that combines smoky, bitter, and sweet flavors into one harmonious glass. This fan favorite is made with mezcal, Aperol, maraschino liqueur, and fresh lime juice. If you enjoy the Last Word, you’re bound to fall hopelessly in love with the Division Bell.

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6. Mezcal Negroni

Mezcal Negroni Cocktail With Mezcal Campari Amaro And Sweet Vermouth
Photo by @allanbenjaminfrancis

One of the most popular mezcal cocktails in the world, the Mezcal Negroni swaps gin for the smoky agave-based spirit. The glorious combination of mezcal, Campari, and sweet vermouth makes for a delectable twist on a classic drink that’s easy to prepare at home. There’s a reason the Mezcal Negroni has inspired so many new mezcal drinks!

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