By Alison Bailin Batz
Less than 10 years ago, a million liters of mezcal, a spirit derived from agave much like tequila, were produced. By contrast, last year, farmers and distillers produced 6 million liters of the spirit, which is now sold in 27 countries. But how is it so different than tequila?
“First, tequila can only be made from blue agave, whereas mezcal comes from nearly any agave variety,” says Supreet Singh of Breakthru Beverage Arizona. “Second, tequila can only legally be produced in Jalisco, Mexico, whereas mezcal comes from several Mexican states. Third, the production process is different, hence the distinctly smoky flavor of mezcal.”
Intrigued? Here’s a guide on how to get your mezcal on.
Salt River Society
For this herbaceous drink, Rayu Mezcal is mixed with lemon, pineapple, Amaro herbal liqueur and aji amarillo, which is a bright orange, medium-hot chile that amps up the spice. $12. At The Scott Resort & Spa, 4925 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.424.6095;
This handcrafted masterpiece is made with Agave de Cortés Mezcal, Peychaud’s Apertivo, fresh lime juice, and pineapple puree – all topped with kombucha. $12. 4425 N. Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale; 480.935.5910;
LON’s Last Drop Bar
A balance of smoke, sweet and spice, this cocktail features El Silencio Mezcal, Luxardo Triplum, fresh lime, prickly pear puree, and agave nectar. $14. At The Hermosa Inn, 5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley; 602.955.7878; www.hermosainn.com.
Blanco Tacos + Tequila
Shake up traditional imbibing with an ounce of Montelobos Mezcal, served up in a wine glass with a chili-dusted orange and a Mexican beer. The idea is to shoot it, suck the orange, and then recover with the beer. $10. 6166 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.305.6692; www.blancotacostequila.com.
Using premium Yuu Baal Espadin Reposado Mezcal, this spicy-smooth sipper blends lemon and lime juices with agave nectar. It’s topped with an olive oil float, cracked pepper, and a dehydrated lime wheel garnish. $15. 6316 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.307.6900; www.ilovefatox.com.
Zesty Ancho Reyes Liqueur and refreshing grapefruit are infused with El Silencio Mezcal, served in
a salt-rimmed rocks glass and
garnished with a jalapeno. $15.
At Mountain Shadows, 5445
E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale;
Hula’s Modern Tiki
Unlike rum-based Tiki drinks, this tropical tipple blends Don Amado Mezcal with key lime and pineapple juices. Housemade cayenne simple syrup complements the smokiness of the liquor and cuts the sweetness of the fruit. $11. 7213 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale; 480.970.4852; www.hulasmoderntiki.com.
The Bitter Truth
Bitters Bar & Food
A combination of Agave de Cortés Mezcal, Amaro, grapefruit, lime and sweet orgeat syrup creates a novel balance of juicy citrus fruit, smoked almond, and a refined finish. $13; 1455 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.550.5088;