The idea of using mezcal in cocktails is a relatively new concept. In Mexico, where the spirit is made, it is most commonly consumed straight without any mixers, save for a side of orange slices and sal de gusano. Luckily, the spirit doesn’t have to be super expensive for it to be enjoyed solo. Here, the cheapest mezcals that can be sipped straight without any mixers or chasers to accompany them. None of these bottles costs more than $40.
Sombra Mezcal Joven ($34)
Produced by Richard Betts, Dennis Scholl and winemaker Charles Bieler (of Three Thieves Winery), this mezcal is made from 100 percent organically farmed espadín agave. With a smoky backbone and strong minerality, Sombra also has notes of wild flowers, citrus and tropical fruit. Sip this mezcal straight with a side of fresh guava.
Del Maguey Vida Mezcal ($34)
Although this mezcal was technically designed for use in cocktails, it’s still enjoyable on its own. Made from espadín agave sourced from throughout Oaxaca, Vida is double distilled in wood-fired copper stills. Exceptionally smooth without too much smokiness, it’s herbaceous, vegetal and mineral-heavy. Serve it in traditional copitas to bring out the flavors of wet stone and clay.