Is it a Mezcalini or a Mezcalita?
Most of the weight in my checked baggage from Oaxaca, Mexico to Durham, North Carolina, USA was attributed to three bottles of Gracias a Dios mezcal — two of Gin Mezcal and one of Cuixe (also spelled Cuishe, pronounced KWI-SHAY). I had four bottles packed and couldn’t move the luggage, so I reluctantly removed one.
(I buy my Gracias a Dios mezcal directly from Oscar Hernandez, the mezcalero, at his palenque in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca, the world capital of mezcal making.) He blends the Gin Mezcal with 32 aromatics including lavendar and juniper berries, ginger and rosemary.
Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve experimented with mixed drinks in addition to loving the aroma and taste of mezcal straight with no flavor additives. A little sip goes a long way! Never throw back a mezcal shot. It’s not done that way.
For the uninitiated, a Mezcalini is like a Martini in appearance only. Mezcal and pulverized fresh fruit with a bit of simple sugar syrup, are shaken together with ice and strained. Then, the bartender pours the aromatic liquid into a stemmed cocktail glass. Sometimes herbs and spices are added, like rosemary or ginger, in the shaken (not stirred) motif. Serve it straight up.
But, for my version of a Mezcalini, I prefer to adapt the Margarita, substituting mezcal for the more lowly (IMHO) tequila. In restaurants, I order this as a Mezcal Margarita so no one makes a mistake. I like it over the rocks with a salted rim, garnished with worm salt.
Let’s all now rightfully call this a MEZCALITA.
The classic will be fresh squeezed lime juice, mezcal and Cointreau (in Mexico, look for Controy).
In Mexico City, I ordered such a drink on the rooftop terrace of the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, overlooking the Zocalo. So good, I returned again. And then, once more. It was blended with fresh pineapple and lime juice.
I’ve been working on perfecting the recipe here in Durham, making it for every at-home occasion I can plan. I think I finally have it down, and I’m passing it along to you. No cheating. You can’t use tequila.
Pineapple-Lime Mezcalita Cocktail — Serves 2
In a blender, add together:
4 ounces of Joven mezcal distilled from the Espadin cactus
2 ounces of Cointreau
2 T. simple syrup (dissolve 2 T. sugar in 4 T. boiling water until liquid is clear)
1 C. fresh ripe pineapple, cut into 1″ cubes
2 ounces of freshly squeeze lime juice
6-8 ice cubes, or more for a slushier consistency
Pulse your blender a few times to mix the ingredients. Then, add the ice cubes and turn speed to LIQUIFY. In seconds, your drink will be ready.
I have two wonderful, clear, Tipsy Glasses, hand-blown by Asheville glass artist Ben Greene-Colonnese. You can order them online. Not sure where you can find mezcal where you live but definitely worth the search!
We use this lime squeezer throughout Mexico. It’s a part of every kitchen. Mine is the cheapest and totally functional, all aluminum. I’ve had it for years. Where to buy in the USA? Amazon, of course.
At home in Teotitlan del Valle, I have a collection of many favorite brands made from wild agaves like tepeztate and tobala. Some, I bought from the distiller and they are unlabeled and not available for export.