As we look ahead to a month of thrills, chills, and tasty autumnal treats, we can’t help but think of the old proverb: “Tequila is to wake the living. Mezcal is to wake the dead.” But there’s no reason to worry—cracking open a bottle of October’s featured spirit will not result in a series of reanimated limbs punching up through your floorboards. No, Oaxacans were referring to something much more pleasant and life-affirming with this adage: the connective cultural bonds (and great drinks) that link the generations of Mexico throughout history. Whether it’s the beauty of its folk art, the romance of its mariachi music, the vibrancy of its cuisine, or the signature bite of its native spirit, there’s a rich heritage and passion built into the country’s people that shines bright and shall never die.
For better or worse, “a smokier tequila” has become a popular shorthand for mezcal outside of Mexico. That’s not far off from a flavor perspective, but otherwise it’s technically inaccurate. Mezcal is actually the name for all officially recognized, agave-based distilled liquors (which means that tequila—which is made only from blue agave, and primarily in the state of Jalisco—is a type of mezcal, not vice versa), and the presence of smoke is just the opening chapter of this spirit’s story. Depending on the mezcal, perceptive tasters may also pick up on the delectable notes of honey, pepper, grass, and even several fruits.
To pay homage to the history and deliciousness of this national treasure, we’re getting ready to set the Mezcal Moods with three drinks that head out in entirely different directions but ultimately meet back up at the destination of Mmmmmm. Subscribe now through September 30th to get yours—it’ll ship the week of October 7th.
No stranger to creating cocktails that are a globe-trot in a glass, Caer Maiko Ferguson’s formula for this refreshing and punchy lassi swaps the customary yogurt base for a mango milk that’s shaken up into a smooth textural delight. Pueblo meets Punjab in the Mango Down River, which kicks up the flowing current of mango with lime, Angostura, and mezcal’s perfect sharp smokiness.
Caer is a bartender at The Roosevelt Room and bar manager at The Eleanor in Austin, Texas. Her most recent project has been creating the Asian cocktail pop-up Daijoubu with her friend and coworker Sharon Yeung. Recently, Caer was named Bartender of the Year at the 2019 Culturemap Austin Tastemaker Awards. She’s chosen to donate her proceeds from this box to RAICES, an organization that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant families and refugees in central and south Texas.
Jules Mavromatis’s Red Devil 2.0 may emerge from your bar in intimidating fashion with its blood-red color and ancho- and jalapeño-infused agave syrup, firewater tincture, and rim of cayenne salt. But as you’ll soon find out, looks—much like some of the tricksters you may encounter elsewhere in late October—can be deceiving. Fresh citrus and mezcal shine bright in this fan-favorite cocktail, and this one-two punch helps to bring out all the fruity and floral qualities of the chilis (while keeping their heat level from getting too diabolical).
Jules is the co-founder of Agave 308, Key West’s only agave-focused bar. Between the countless hours she’s spent there and her numerous travels to Mexico, she has cultivated her passion for and knowledge of agave spirits and cocktails. She’s chosen to donate her proceeds from this box to the Global Empowerment Mission’s Hurricane Dorian relief effort in the Bahamas.
For more from Jules on her travels through Mexico and her love of mezcal, check out our 2016 interview with her, where you can get the details behind her cocktail (plus recommendations for food and music to pair with it!).
Back in the days of Mexico’s early Aztec settlements, cacao was used as currency, as a token to sanctify celebratory and sacrificial ceremonies, or simply as a pleasurable sip or snack. In Sam Jimenez’s Theobroma—which would definitely fall into the latter category—mezcal melds beautifully with rich, earthy coffee and chocolate and the enticing aroma of cacao, yet asserts its fruitiness with the complement of a few standout dashes of orange bitters.
Sam has worked in almost every position imaginable in many bars and restaurants throughout upstate NY and is currently a brand ambassador for a boutique line of mezcal. You can often find him traveling through Mexico getting to know more about the magical distillates of his home country.
A rousing fall fiesta is afoot, and an appearance by you will make it complete! Mezcal Moods may sound like the title of a retro yacht rock album, but here it’s a festive warning that where there’s smoke, there’s going to be a spooky good time!
The Shaker & Spoon Team
P.S. To make this fall even more festive, 100 lucky boxes in this month’s shipment will also contain a Cardamom Mulling Kit from Woodward Extract Co.! Use this bonus gift to get cozy with a warming blend of organic spices to mull two bottles of wine or half a gallon of apple cider.
*not vegan: condensed milk