Nearly three decades ago, chef Rick Bayless helped introduce mezcal to America in a smoky, easy-drinking Margarita at Chicago’s Frontera Grill. Now, he is championing the Mexican spirit once again at Leña Brava, a seafood-centric spot that boasts one hell of mezcal menu. The list even includes a house mezcal made and bottled in Oaxaca, as well as cocktails designed by beverage director Jeff Walters. "Mezcal is so much fun to work with in that it is such a complex base,” Walters says. “There are so many flavors already inside mezcal; it is just a matter of picking and choosing what flavors you want to highlight.” In this cocktail, Walter showcases mezcal’s slightly herbaceous side, coaxing those flavors out with yellow Chartreuse, serrano peppers and cucumber. He opts for Leña Brava’s house mezcal but you can sub in any good quality joven (unaged) mezcal—preferably one made with espadin agave.
2 oz Mezcal
2-3 small slices serrano pepper
4-5 small slices cucumber slices
.5 oz agave nectar
.75 oz fresh lime juice (4 calories)
.25 oz Yellow Chartreuse