Mezcal-rita: the Blank Canvas for Mastering Mixology
You’ve done it! You’ve ventured to the cutting edge and have come back with the first of its kind, alc-free Mezcal. Congratulations. But just as an explorer bringing back the first-ever coconut to your homeland, like many, you may be wondering what exactly to do with it.
With a great spirit comes great responsibility, so we’re giving you an intro, a demonstration, a masterclass, if you will, on just how to utilize your Mezcal and really do it justice.
By focusing on just one simple cocktail and modifying its recipe to suit your own preferences, you will not only end up with a perfectly customized cocktail, but you will also acquire some fundamental tenets of mixology that will aid you in any cocktail you approach.
The most ubiquitous cocktail in the world of agave spirits is by far, the Margarita. So we’ll lean on the collective familiarity with this drink to parse out the differences when using Mezcal instead of Tequila as the star of the show.
Though additional subcategories can be drawn, cocktails can generally be broken down into 5 main categories of flavor: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and spicy. Of course, the most fun part of this lesson is when you actually sip the cocktail, but this is also your opportunity to identify the relationship of these 5 respective categories within a singular cocktail. Similarly, this is why watching movie trailers is so fun…because everyone gets to be a critic. The second the trailer ends, you look at the person next to you and suddenly become Siskel and Ebert. Same goes for cocktails: Too sweet? Two thumbs down! Face puckeringly sour? Less lemon pleeeease!
The idea here is to sip and trust your own instincts. No recipe is enforced by law nor written in stone, so really start to critique cocktails as freely as you would a movie preview.
The 5 Flavor Categories of a Cocktail
The ingredients of the Mezcal-rita are going to hit the 5 primary flavor profiles as such:
Sweet: Agave Syrup (aka: sugar); notes of sweetness from the Mezcal
Sour: Lime juice
Bitter: Orange bitters; herbaceous/smokey notes from the Mezcal can silhouette a bitter profile
Salty: Salt rim
Spicy: Spicy salt rim; natural heat from the Mezcal
Let's start with our official recipe for the Monday Mezcal-rita as our ‘constant’ before we introduce variables into the equation:
- 1.5oz Monday Mezcal
- .5oz fresh lemon
- .5oz fresh lime
- .25oz agave syrup
- 2 dashes orange bitters
Combine Monday Mezcal, juices, bitters, and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake hard until chilled. Strain into a short glass over fresh ice. Garnish with fresh lime.
Optional: salt rim. Pro-tip: hot salt rim.
Sip & Trust
Here is where you employ the Sip & Trust method: Sip and parse out the levels of these 5 components and how they relate to each other. Then, Trust your preferences to determine how you would alter the ratios of each component to better suit your taste preferences.
Now, let us walk you through some tried and tested variations to dial in your own perfect Mezcal-rita:
- Prefer more agave; less smoke?
- Go .75oz N/A Tequila, .75oz Monday Mezcal
- Prefer a low-alc version for the same^ preference?
- .75oz Blanco Tequila (alcoholic)
(By cutting out, or cutting back on the Mezcal, you lower the levels of smokiness while increasing the presence of herbaceous agave flavors found in the Tequila)
- Prefer a Low-alc version of the original?
- .5oz Mezcal (alcoholic), 1oz Monday Mezcal
(Adding Mezcal which contains alcohol will increase ‘the burn’ mouthfeel)
- Prefer more heat/smoke?
- 2oz Mezcal, add hot-salt /Tajin rim
(The additional Mezcal ups the smoke levels, while the chile salt rim leaves a spicy, lingering heat)
- Prefer it sweeter?
- .5 - .75oz agave syrup
(the sweeter you want it, the more agave syrup you add)
The good news: This is going to take multiple tries, so you’re going to have to enjoy multiple variations of this cocktail.
And even more good news: Using this mindful approach of categorizing flavors and then modifying recipes to fit your own taste preferences serves to benefit every cocktail you make from here on out.
You’ve got the world’s finest zero-proof Mezcal; you’ve got the knowledge to craft cocktails, now just as you did with your recipe, it's time to customize your experience. Is it time to share your skills and throw that cocktail party, or simply put your feet up and enjoy?