For the longest time, tequila was the most well-known and ubiquitous agave-based spirit in the US. But these days, craft cocktail menus proudly announce mezcal offerings and mezcal-devoted bars increasingly dot urban landscapes. So we thought, if you haven’t tried mezcal yet, it’s time to see what all the hype is about—while you can!
Unfortunately, the agave ecosystem (and the traditional production process used by the small family-run distilleries whose domain these spirits have been for a long time) are currently under threat. The Tequila Interchange Project (TIP)—to whom we’re donating a portion of this month’s proceeds—is fighting for true agave sustainability, and to preserve these small distilleries’ right to continue doing what they’ve been doing for ages.
That’s just one reason why we’re so excited to announce October’s ¡Viva Mezcal! Box. Subscribe now through September 30th to get yours—it’ll ship the week of October 3rd.
First up is an adult twist for this candy-laden season. The incredible Guatemalan Poker Game cocktail by Russell Davis is a highball in the old-school soda-fountain style, riffing on a classic chocolate phosphate. As you build it, you’ll use soda jerk techniques and utilize the previously extinct ingredient acid phosphate to balance the sweet with a slight bit of tangy. For a look at the story behind this drink, check out our interview with Russell.
As one of the most well-known and influential nightlife professionals, Russell Davis is paving the way for the new era of the celebrity mixologist. He was co-star of and expert on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue and, in addition to having been named Nightclub & Bar’s 2012 Bartender of the Year, is also president of Unlimited Liabilities, an elite bar/spirits industry company comprised of some of the world’s best bar talent, and Shaker & Spoon’s Chief Cocktail Officer.
Blood orange turns the Red Devil 2.0—created by Jules Mavromatis—into a gorgeous, blood-red celebration. With the vibrant citrus, hint of warmth and spice from the ancho-infused agave nectar, and brightness of the chili lime salt rim, the mezcal’s smokiness shines through beautifully in this cocktail without overpowering the other ingredients. To find out a little more about her ideas behind this drink, check out our interview with Jules.
Jules Mavromatis is the co-founder of Agave 308 Tequila Bar in Key West, Florida. Her love of and passion for agave-based spirits shine through in some of the freshest and most innovative cocktails on the island. She recently visited the agave fields of Jesus Maria, Mexico, toured the Tequila Avión Distillery, and witnessed the entire production process from piña to bottle—an experience that further inspired her unique and delicious cocktails.
The Oaxacan Trails by Eric Johnson is perfect for this transitional time of year because no matter what temperature you’re sitting at, it will still go down smooth. Although mezcal gets to take center stage as the star of this show, we bet you’ll love the surprising additions of refreshing celery syrup and unique Critter Bitters Pure Cricket Tincture as they vie for the spotlight just a bit (this one’s obviously not vegan).
Eric Johnson—DiscoverSD Bartender of the Year (2015), Eater Bartender of the Year (2013)—is a consultant for and partner in the Normal Heights (San Diego) neighborhood gem Sycamore Den, which has been featured in articles in the LA Times, USA Today, Sunset Magazine, Imbibe, Southwest Magazine, and more. Eric has recently taken on new projects with Top Chef Richard Blais and heads the bar programs at Juniper and Ivy restaurant and their recently opened concept The Crack Shack.
Critter Bitters—extracted from toasted crickets—are working toward impacting the overwhelming problem of world hunger. According to their mission statement, insects are the first viable solution to the earth’s food shortage. Two billion people around the world already eat insects, which are not only high in protein, but leave a much smaller footprint than beef or any other meat. For those of us who can’t fathom consuming insects, the barrier is often a psychological one. To read more about the philosophy behind and production process of Critter Bitters (and what to expect from the taste!), we’ve got an interview with co-founders Julia Plevin and Lucy Knops.
We hope you can’t wait to try the ¡Viva Mezcal! Box! The cocktails inside offer a range of ways to enjoy mezcal and—with chocolate, blood orange, and crickets, oh my!—to celebrate the sweetest and spookiest month of the year.
Cheers to that,
The Shaker & Spoon Team