The primary difference between mezcal and tequila lies in their production processes: Mezcal agave piñas (the massive hearts of the agave plants) are smoked, while tequila agave piñas are steam-cooked. There are other differences (mostly in the types of agave plants used) but it’s this one that imparts the signature smoky flavor to mezcal, a quality that makes the spirit well-suited to a Negroni variation. Mezcal’s got the smoke, spice, and herbaceousness to stand up to the bitterness of Campari, producing a cocktail with pleasing depth and complexity.
All that said, don’t select an overly smoky mezcal for this drink. Stick with varieties that are somewhat gin-like: floral and citrusy, with a high mineral content. They’ll still have the necessary smoky element.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 oz mezcal
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 1 oz Campari
- Combine mezcal, vermouth, and Campari in a mixing glass with ice.
- Stir to combine and chill.
- Strain over one large cube in a Rocks glass.
- Garnish with an orange peel.