November 2009

Mezcal Cocktails

photograph by Brian Leatart

(From left to right) Paloma de Cereza, Fizcal del Maguey, La Tierra y las Flores, and Juquila

Currently managing Cole’s Red Car Bar, Raul Yrastorza will be opening Las Perlas— a “shrine to mezcal”—in early 2010, with owners Mark Verge and Cedd Moses. The crea­tions on this page are a few of the planned libations. He attributes his inspiration to “having walked the palenques with Cooper and met the amazing people who make these rare spirits.”

Mezcal Maestro

Barman: Raul Yrastorza
Where: Coles, 118 E. 6th St, Los Angeles, 213-622-4090
Quote: “I believe that all these recipes pay respect to the rare integrity of Del Maguey Mezcal. My goal was to create a visceral cocktail—something that defines the terroir of the palenques and celebrate the origins of the unique spirit.”


Glass: Liqueur glass, 4.6 ounces
Color: Off white, with a faint amber hue
Quote: “This drink was concocted by Kristin Heaton Peabody and inspired by Henry C. Ramos and Ron Cooper of Del Maguey. The contrasting marriage of flavors of bright fruit and dank vegetation renders the feel of the palenques—specifically of San Luis del Rio, which is nestled along a fertile riverside, amid tropical plants in an otherwise arid region.”

1 ounce Del Maguey Minero
1 ounce Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal
2 ounces fresh-squeezed blood-orange juice (when available—substitute with fresh tangerine)
1 ounce heavy cream
1 ounce agave nectar
1 egg white
4 drops orange-flower water
Juice of ½ lime
Nutmeg, grated
Chipotle, ground
1 teaspoon orange zest, grated

Put ingredients in shaker, and add ice last. Shake for at least 1 minute. Strain into liqueur glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg, chipotle and orange zest.


Glass: Double old-fashioned, 9.6 ounces
Color: Deep amber
Quote: “Named after the Virgen de Juquila, a deity who watches over the village at Santa Catarina, Mexico, protecting it, healing the sick and making wishes come true.”

2 small dried red chilies
4 barspoons of balsamic syrup* (recipe follows)
2 ounces Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal
1 dash Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
Juice of a quartered lime
Medium strawberry, halved

*Balsamic syrup: In medium pot, combine 1 ½ cups sugar and ½ cup water on medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook until water evaporates, leaving caramelized sugar the color of dark amber. At the same time, in a separate saucepan, simmer 1 ½ cups balsamic vinegar. When caramelized sugar is ready, add balsamic vinegar and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. When syrup is slightly thickened, remove from heat. Create an ice bath in a large bowl and transfer syrup to smaller bowl and place in the ice bath. Once cooled, transfer to a small bottle and refrigerate. Keeps up to 6 months.

In a mixing glass, muddle 1 chili, ½ strawberry, balsamic syrup, mezcal, bitters and lime juice. Shake. Double strain over ice into double old-fashioned glass with cracked ice or one solid ice cube. Garnish with ½ strawberry and whole dried chili.


Glass: Highball, 8.3 ounces
Color: Grapefruit, with a lime green hue
Quote: “It will look, taste and remind you of the vibrant open-air markets of Oaxaca.”

3 cherries, soaked in Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal
½ ounce agave nectar
4 dashes angostura bitters
2 ounces Del Maguey Santo Domingo mezcal
Gusano (worm larvae) powder (can be purchased at Guelaguetza Restaurant, L.A.)
Grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
Soda water
1 dash salt
3 Luxardo Marasche cherries
Slice of lime

In a mixing glass, muddle 3 mezcal-soaked cherries, agave nectar, bitters and mezcal. Shake and strain into a collins glass rimmed with gusano. Fill with grapefruit juice and soda water. Add 1 dash of salt from shaker to top of cocktail. Garnish with 3 Luxardo Marasche cherries and slice of lime.


Glass: Cognac magnum, 23 ounces
Color: Hibiscus red
Quote: “The hot toddy is amazing, and you can’t decide whether just to smell it or drink it.”

Large handful of dried hibiscus flowers (can be found at your local Latin market)
12 cups hot water
3 cloves
3 allspice bulbs
Orange twist
2 ounces Del Maguey Minero mezcal
½ ounce agave nectar
One small cinnamon stick
3–4 fresh basil leaves, on a sprig, cracked

Prepare hibiscus tea (Jamaica tea) by adding one large hand full of dried hibiscus flowers to 12 cups of hot water just before boil. Lower heat and add cloves and allspice bulbs and allow to steep for 30 minutes on low heat. Strain into a pot and simmer until ready to use.

In a large snifter or tall cappuccino glass, add mezcal, agave nectar and cinnamon stick. Add 4 ounces hot hibiscus tea and orange twist. Add sprig of basil.