Mescal is the new tequila. In the U.S. and Mexico, it’s surging in popularity.
Mescal must be 100% distilled from the agave plant. The oldest distilled spirit in North America, the technique of distilling mescal was brought by the Spaniards who learned it from the Moors. Mescal can be legally produced in seven states in southern Mexico, with Oaxaca being the center of production.
Tequilas made from 100% blue agave are mescals, and the two beverages share the same aging-based categories: Silver or Joven, Reposado and Añejo. Mescal generally is smokier tasting than Tequila because it is produced in small batches and roasted in an earth oven, while tequila typically is made in large batches and steamed.
“Mescal is enjoying a renaissance because it has a very distinctive, smoky taste that brings a unique flavor profile to cocktails,” explained Martin Kipping, General Manager, Viceroy Zihuatanejo. “We are on the cutting edge of this emerging interest in mescal with mixology that blends this ancient beverage with favorite Mexican and international ingredients.”
“As happened with tequila, both long-established and new artisanal producers are creating more sophisticated products today and it is probably only a matter of time before mescal becomes a mainstream alcoholic beverage around the world,” said Kipping.
The mescal menu at Viceroy Zihuatanejo is farm-to-straw. Try these newly-created drinks – The Cucumber, The Hibiscus-Tini, and The Mariachi – that use natural ingredients, including organic agave nectar rather than sugar or simple syrup.
All recipes and photos courtesy Viceroy Zihuatanejo. www.viceroyzihuatanejo.com
1 ½ oz. White Mescal
1 oz. Agave Nectar
1/4 oz. Red Hibiscus Flowers (or 2 hibiscus tea bags)
Steep the hibiscus flowers in a cup of boiling water for at least five minutes, until you have a concentrated tea. Dust the rim of a Martini glass with a mixture of salt and chili powder and chill the glass.
Mix the hibiscus tea with ice, the mescal and agave nectar in a blender, pour into the chilled glass and garnish with an orange half moon.
Prepare an Old Fashion glass by wetting the rim with lemon juice and dipping it in chili powder. Blend ice and half of the cucumber with the mescal, lemon juice and agave nectar, and pour into the glass. Dice the remaining half cucumber and add to the drink. Accent with a lemon slice dusted with chili powder.
Prepare a Highball glass with salt rim, using lemon to wet the rim. Fill the glass with ice and add the mescal, Worcestershire Sauce, lemon juice and tomato juice. Stir well. Serve beer of choice on the side.