Mexico’s top bartender makes us fall in love with the smouldering complexity of mezcal
“Twenty years ago in Mexico, mezcal was for poor people. Fifty years ago it was for poor people in the villages,” says Mica Rousseau. “Now it’s a super trendy spirit in the big food and cocktail cities. Now we are producing mezcal not for the Mexican market, but for the rest of the world.”
Savour the art of the shaken and stirred at the ski resort’s annual food and drink fest
If you think Whistler Cornucopia is just about wine, think again. Sure, there’s no shortage of Chardonnay, but the annual food-and-drink festival is also about beer, whisky and, above all, cocktails.
In fact, Whistler has generally become a great destination for cocktail lovers. As Mary Zinck, the manager of travel media for Tourism Whistler, says, “I don’t think there is a place that you can go where you can’t get a good drink.”
INGREDIENTS: 3 cucumber slices (plus 1 for garnish)
0.5 oz (15 mL) agave syrup
1.5 oz (45 mL) mezcal, preferably Del Maguey Vida
1 oz (30 mL) ginger beer
0.75 oz (22 mL) lime juice
0.75 oz (22 mL) passion fruit purée
Garnish: Candied ginger, pinch of ground chili
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber slices and agave syrup, then add the remaining ingredients. Shake with ice, then fine-strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with the candied ginger skewered to the cucumber slice, and a pinch of ground chili.
INGREDIENTS: 2 oz blanco tequila (or mezcal) ¾ oz grenadine* ¾ oz fresh lime juice 3 dashes Angostura bitters 1 dash lime bitters Splash of soda Lime wheel, for garnish
Shake all the ingredients except soda with ice. Strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with a lime wheel. Serves 1.
*La Mezcaleria’s grenadine: Place 1 cup pomegranate juice (fresh is best, but bottled 100-per-cent pomegranate juice will also work) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for approximately 5 minutes. To preserve the bright, fresh flavour, do not boil or reduce the juice. Remove from the heat and add 1 cup sugar and a couple of dashes of orange flower water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. This will keep, refrigerated, in a clean glass jar for up to a week.
INGREDIENTS: 2 oz mezcal 0.5 oz cocoa nib syrup* 2 dashes Scrappy’s Fire Water 1 dash Angostura bitters orange zest for garnish
METHOD: Pre-chill an Old Fashioned glass. Add all liquid ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir for 20 seconds. Strain cocktail into the glass, over fresh ice. Garnish with orange zest.
*Cocoa nib syrup: Add 1 cup cocoa nibs, 1 cup raw sugar and 1.5 cups water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow syrup to cool and strain into a sealable bottle or mason jar and refrigerate (it will keep for about four weeks). Dry the nibs on parchment paper to use as garnish.
This Mexican-influenced variation on the classic Last Word cocktail was created by bartender Tarquin Melnyk to highlight the fresh, juicy Ms. Better’s Green Strawberry Mah-Kwan bitters. “It has the biggest wow factor when people are trying bitters for the first time,” he says.
• 1 oz (30 mL) mezcal, preferably Siete Misterios
• 1 oz (30 mL) green Chartreuse
• 1 oz (30 mL) Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
• 1 oz (30 mL) fresh lime juice
• 2 dashes Ms. Better’s Green Strawberry Mah-Kwan bitters