It’s a lively time of year in Mexico, a period when the last cheerful shouts and mariachi chords of Independence Day parties fade out and attention turns to preparing for the more spiritual but equally as energetic and colorful Día de los Muertos. In these months they honor their country and its people, past and present, along with family and friends and plenty of food, music, and dance to spare. Oh, and very likely a healthy share of mezcal as well.
The national spirit, itself the focus of its own annual celebrations in Oaxaca and elsewhere, is much more suited for a low-key but omnipresent role in the culture. For more than 400 years in happiness, in sadness, and everything in between, mezcal stoically stands nearby for one to savor, possibly with some spilled on the ground for those lost and fondly remembered. “Tómalo a besos” (drink it with kisses) is Mexico’s poetic way of describing how to traditionally enjoy mezcal, sipped neat, which allows the terroir and full expression of agave to bloom to the senses, as it would with a fine wine.
On virtually every bar menu around the world, however, it has come into its own as an exceptional base, casting its spell on cocktails by elevating its partnering flavors while adding so many of its own. It’s smooth and faintly sweet, with the smoky, earthy citrus notes of roasted agave—and one sip, no matter how it’s prepared, makes it a cinch to completely Fall for Mezcal over and over again. Subscribe now through October 30th to get this box—it’ll begin to ship the week of October 19th (with a split second wave of shipping the week of October 26th, owing to the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic).
Drawing inspiration from the whimsical yet deeply complex nature of her favorite style of art, Nova Clark has turned to roses and painted a delightfully drinkable picture called Abstract Distraction. The cocktail features the flavorful and fragrant flower twice—with both an infused strawberry jam and a sparkling lemonade—to set a bright and fruity stage for the earthy light smoke and vanilla notes of mezcal. Sample this drink amid a landscape of stunning fall foliage and, miraculously, everything will be coming up roses.
Hailing from Canada, Nova made the move to Las Vegas in 2015, where she discovered the United States Bartenders’ Guild and a passion for new and classic cocktail creations. You can find her at Oak & Ivy, a whiskey-driven bar or, on rare occasions, at the live music venue the Sand Dollar Lounge.
Take a tour of any rural palenque (mezcal distillery), as Sam Jimenez so often does, and see centuries of tradition playing out as the smoke of roasted agave and the lively citrus scents of the plant’s fermenting state waft about. His El Palenque captures these unforgettable sense memories of mezcal production, and with a special nod to a Mexican street drink. A bespoke pineapple shrub (specially developed just for this cocktail, mirroring the fermented pineapple base of tepache) and lemon lime–flavored ginger beer bring bite and sharpness, balanced by mezcal and a demerara syrup that symbolizes the rich sweetness achieved by agave’s time spent in smoldering pit ovens. Viva mezcal and long live your evening!
Sam has worked in almost every position imaginable in many bars and restaurants throughout upstate NY and is 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, leading tastings and teaching culinary and mixology classes, or guest bartending at some of the best bars in the Riviera Maya.
Sage represents wisdom, long life, and esteem, and its effect in the kitchen (particularly during Thanksgiving) speaks loudly of the season with a strong but comforting, warm flavor. With this in mind, Marshall Altier just had to bring it over to the bar for his Brush of the Bush, a wise old fashioned that celebrates the distinctly delicious voice of mezcal with help from sage-infused agave syrup and cherry vanilla bitters. Our all-knowing advice? Usher in the autumn vibes, and enjoy this one in good company!
Marshall is a twenty-four-year hospitality operations veteran, brand builder, consultant, and the coauthor of How to Booze: Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice.
Whether you’re a seasoned mezcal pro or a curious, soon-to-be convert, sign up today for three delicious ways to completely Fall for Mezcal!
The Shaker & Spoon Team