Skip the vodka. Skip the tequila. Put back that whisky (or whiskey). Your seltzer deserves something better. The next time you want to mix yourself a spritzy Highball, use mezcal instead. It has the complexity of a Japanese Highball (with the smoke of a Scottish single malt), the lightness of a Vodka Soda, and the refreshing gulpability of a Tequila Soda—all in one glass. As with tequila, mezcal is made from fermenting and distilling juice from the heart of the agave plant (known as the piña due to its resemblance to a pineapple). Unlike tequila, though, mezcal can be made from any agave indigenous to Mexico (while tequila can only be made from Blue Weber agave). It is made with pit-roasted agave, fermented with wild yeast, and only distilled once or twice. (It is also usually bottled at still strength.) All of these factors give mezcal an immense amount of character and tons of pure agave flavor, which shines through a refreshing topper of soda water. While a lime wedge makes for a fine garnish, a slice of orange or grapefruit is even better—the juicier, more flavorful citrus fruits are perfect matches for bold mezcal. To put the cocktail over the edge, add just a pinch of salt. It won’t be salty—we promise—but it will elevate all of the other flavors.
Mezcal and Soda
- In a highball glass, add the mezcal and fill with cubed ice.
- Top with seltzer water and stir to incorporate.
- Garnish with a lime wedge, or orange or grapefruit slice, and a pinch of sea salt.
Mix it Up
The next time that you make yourself a Negroni, skip the gin. Instead, add a touch of smoke to the drink with mezcal instead. With a similar flavor to London Dry style gins—albeit a little more savory and much more smoky—mezcal is a perfect replacement for the herbaceous spirit. In a Negroni, mezcal’s backbone of smoke and spice is assertive...