5 Mezcal Cocktails You Have To Try
Tequila’s been prominent in the liquor and cocktail scene for centuries. Everyone knows it, whether they want to or not. But before tequila came along, another agave spirit ran the town: mezcal. Smoky and strong, mezcal is like tequila’s suave cousin who intended to just visit for a while, but ended up moving in. It’s become increasingly popular across the country, with Indy’s bartenders noticing their own patrons’ palates changing.
“Mezcal is starting to make a push, and in the past few years it’s made a big appearance in Indiana,” says Spencer Layman, bartender at Livery. “I think people are starting to get to the point where they really like that smoky flavor. And I think honestly, it kind of has a lot to do with a hipster style of drinking now, where people are like, ‘Oh cool, I’ve had a lot of tequila—what else can I try?’”
Thunderbird: The Girlschool
1 ounce scotch
1 ounce mezcal of choice
½-ounce lime juice
½-ounce grapefruit juice
2 drops Bittermens Xocolate mole bitters
¾-ounce passion fruit syrup
Dried orange and orchid flowers for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the scotch, mezcal, Falernum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, bitters, and passion fruit syrup. Shake vigorously for 12 to 15 seconds. Strain over ice in a small tumbler. Garnish with dried orange and orchid flower.
“Girlschool balances all of the smoky aspects of those base spirits … It has everything that you would want.”
—Tyler Rader, bartender at Thunderbird
Livery: Mezcal El Diablo
2 ounces mezcal of choice
¾ ounce crème de cassis
½ ounce agave nectar (optional, to taste)
2 ounces ginger beer
1 lime, juiced
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the mezcal, crème de cassis, and agave nectar. Squeeze as much lime juice in as you’d like, to taste. Shake vigorously for 12 to 15 seconds, then strain into a highball glass over ice. Top it with ginger beer, garnish with a slice of lime, then serve.
“Beautiful, classic, bold cocktail … One of my favorite sippers.” —Spencer Layman, bartender at Livery
Sangrita Saloon: El Hulk
1 ounce mezcal
1 ounce Hacienda Sotol
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce agave nectar
Slice of cucumber, sprig of mint, and jalapeño for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the mezcal, sotol, lime juice, and agave nectar. Shake vigorously for 12 to 15 seconds. Strain into a small tumbler with ice. Garnish with cucumber, mint, and jalapeño, plus salt around the rim, and serve.
“The cucumber, mint, and jalapeño make for a nice margarita … it brings out the smoky freshness of the mezcal.” —Olivia Patterson, bartender at Sangrita
1 ¼ ounces mezcal
¼ ounce Amaro
1 ounce lime juice
¾ ounce blackberry syrup
Basil, for shaking with
Honeydew ice cube*
Slice of honeydew melon for garnish
*Cut up as much honeydew melon as you’d like and remove the rind. Put it through a macerating juicer for best results, and pour the juice into ice molds. Let freeze for a few hours.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the mezcal, amaro, lime juice, blackberry syrup, and basil. Shake vigorously for 12 to 15 seconds. Strain over a honeydew ice cube in a small tumbler. Garnish with honeydew melon.
“The honeydew ice cube is unique for a lot of people. I like Intuition because mezcal is something a lot of people aren’t used to. This cocktail is a good way to introduce them to it.” —Zach Beeson, bartender at Libertine
La Margarita: Mezcal & Donkey
2 ounces mezcal
1 ounce lime juice
9 ounces ginger beer
Lime slice for garnish
Fill a tall tumbler with several ice cubes. Pour in the mezcal first, followed by the lime juice, and then the ginger beer. Stir—and add a lime slice if you’re feeling cool—before serving.
“I like limey drinks, and the Mezcal & Donkey is refreshing.” —Cruz Rodriguez, bartender at La Margarita