Sometimes you just need something different. Meet different. It’s called a Mezcal smash and this beauty is a lightly adapted cocktail form Half Baked Harvests’ Black Widow Smash. Like Tieghan said (and I agree) fresh blackberries muddled with herbs, citrus and mezcal is the perfect cocktail for Halloween and all the many the cool nights before us. So go ahead this Halloween, indulge yourself.
Agave + Regions:
Mezcal is an acquired taste. For those unfamiliar, mezcal is defined as an “agave-based liquor“. And this includes tequila, which is made in specific regions of Mexico and must be made from only blue agave. But surprisingly, a whopping 30 different varieties of agave can make mezcal. According to spirits writer Chris Tunstall, the most common varieties of agave used for mezcal are tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño and espadín. Espadin being the most common, accounting for up to 90% of all mezcal.
But mezcal is different from tequila in other ways. Mezcal and tequila are produced in different regions of Mexico. Oaxaca, being the leading mezcal producer. The two cousin spirits are also distilled in different ways. Both tequila and mezcal are made from the harvested core of the agave plant, called the “piña”, but tequila is produced by steaming the agave inside industrial ovens before being distilled 2-3 times in copper pots. But, mezcal, is cooked inside earthen pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal before being distilled in clay pots.
Tequila and mezcal are both aged inside oak barrels. But aging categories of the two spirits are defined differently. Tequila comes in three varieties: “blanco” (silver or plato/0-2 months), “reposado” (2-12 months) and “anejo” (1-3 years). Mezcal is also grouped into three categories by age, including “joven” (blanco or abacado/0-2 months), “reposado” (2-12 months) and “anejo” (at least one year).
For me, I have learned to appreciate mezcal, but to enjoy it, and appreciate it, it must be balanced. This mezcal blackberry smash cocktail is just that. Sweet fresh blackberries, fresh lemon and blood orange juice (feel free to sub regular oranges here) balance sweet and tart, which is the key to slightly mellowing out the rich smoky flavor of the mezcal. Happy Halloween!
Mezcal Blackberry Smash
- 10 fresh blackberries, plus more for garnish
- 1 sprig of rosemary, spine removed
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed blood orange juice
- 2 teaspoons agave
- 2 ounces Mezcal
- 2-3 dashes of orange bitters
- Tonic water
- Step 1 Place a handful of ice into a lowball glass and set aside.
- Step 2 Using a cocktail shaker, add the blackberries, rosemary, lemon juice, orange juice, and agave. Using a muddler, muddle the mixture well until the blackberries are nice and ground up.
- Step 3 Add the Mezcal, bitters and a few ice cubes. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.
- Step 4 Double strain into the prepared cocktail glass, top with some tonic water and garnish with additional blackberries if desired.
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