Mezcal, tequila’s darker, smokier brother, is gaining momentum on New York’s mixology scene. The in-demand artisanal spirit is made from the center of the agave plant, the piña, which is cooked in an oven or fire pit (hence its smoky flavor) for several days before being distilled in large vats or barrels. Though mezcal isn’t produced as widely or largely as tequila, there is a growing demand for the spirit in upscale cocktail bars. Here are six spots where you can get acquainted with the smoky spirit.
1. The Vida Old Fashioned at The Dutch is made with mezcal, agave-cardamom syrup, vanilla bitters, and a twist of orange. Simple and pure, it’s a wonderful introduction to mezcal. 131 Sullivan St., 212-677-6200
2. At Mayahuel, try the Smoked Palomino cocktail (Amontillado Sherry, Crema de Mezcal, grapefruit juice, and lime juice) or the Oaxacan Tasting Flight, if you’d like to taste the spirit on its own. 304 E. 6th St., 212-253-5888
3. Casa Mezcal’s Horchatini melds mezcal blanco with orange liqueur and nutty horchata for a milky sweet result. 68 Orchard St., 212-777-2600
4. La Biblioteca features several sipping mezcals on its menu. Also try the Mezcal con Pepino (Scorpion Silver mezcal, cucumber, Serrano chiles, and lime juice) for something spicy. 622 3rd Ave., 212-808-8110
5. The Kings and Heroes at Ward III is a delightful combination of Ilegal Mezcal Joven and Aperol mixed with cucumber, fresh lime, and agave nectar that gets shaken with an egg white and a dash of ginger beer. It’s the ideal drink for the final days of summer. 111 Reade St., 212-240-9194
6. At Macondo, the Lulo + Mezcal is a well-balanced mix of lulo (a citrus fruit), Scorpion Mezcal, D’ariti, lime, agave nectar, and grapefruit bitters with a rosemary rim. 157 E. Houston St., 212-473-9900