Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mezcal and Maximillian

It's great to have friends, especially friends who call up and invite us over for mezcal. He is a master of old movies, especially terrible horror (he was calling to see if we had Giant Spider Invasion - but of course). She likes banda music and mezcal.

You may know that mezcal is a more rustic variety of tequila. While they are both made from the sap of the agave piña, the piñas are steamed for tequila, but roasted in a smokey firepit for mezcal. As a result, mezcal has a serious smokey flavor, more pronounced than a smokey scotch. In addition, mezcal is usually rougher than tequila. But that didn't stop us from using it for fancy cocktails.

Our hostess had a secret recipe - mezcal and Fresca. It was... interesting. A quick look online showed some interesting recipes, with many strange tangents. One direction a lot of recipes took was Vietnamese! For ex: Vietnamese drip coffee with condensed milk and mezcal.

The direction we took was elderflower. Elderflower is a current cocktail taste craze. When trendy bartenders aren't making their own elderflower syrup, they use a new French liqueur, St. Germain. This stuff is brilliant - it has a floral, perfumey flavor, but is really more reminiscent of towards tropical fruit, like lychee. You might detect a note of pear, which is more in keeping with its Alpine French origin. It is quite sweet, yet complex and sophisticated. I used the occasion to buy a bottle.

We mixed up two cocktails: mezcal, St. Germain and grapefruit Izze soda (substituting for Fresca). I've told you my theories on tequila and grapefruit: their bitterness makes them natural partners. The St. Germain takes the rough edges down and sweetens and deepens the flavor. Use just a splash, no more than an oz.

For those who like something stronger and not so sweet: mezcal, St. Germain and a squeeze of lemon.

I haven't named these cocktails - they are still works in progress. But the online mezcal/St. Germain cocktails usually refer to Maximillian (Maximillian's Revenge, etc). It took me a while to remember that he was the French (like St. Germain) emperor of Mexico. Very clever.

Mezcal is very difficult to find in the US (at least around here). You may have also heard that there is a worm in the bottle, and you should eat the worm, and that you will get messed up. That may be true, but it's strictly for tourists.

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