Now that may sound like a bold claim, but I believe it. I have gone through a massive mezcal cocktail discovery process, and have made many, tried many, and therefore, consumed many. It has been hard, as you might imagine. But through this process, I have not found any that can top these two. Yes, a few try to approach the pantheon, but they too fall back to just being damn good, not completely awesome.
Both of these drinks take a bit of effort, but I assure you it is worth it. You will literally amaze your friends. Some of them actually think I know what I am doing! I just make these drinks and the people follow. They become instant mezcal converts. So here they are:
The Mexican Firing Squad
I saw this cocktail with a tequila, not a mezcal, at the Andaz Hotel in midtown NYC, so I asked them to make it with mezcal, and it worked like a dream. Here it is:
- 2.0oz Mezcal
- 1.5oz fresh lime juice
- 1.0oz agave nectar
- .5oz pomegranate molasses
- 3 dashes Angosturo bitters
You can buy pomegranate molasses at grocery stores, but I find they taste a bit odd and, besides, they are easy to make. Just buy a bottle of Pom, the bigger the better, pour it in a sauce pan, and simmer it down. It can take more than an hour, but just as it starts to thicken a little, turn it off. Let it cool, and then pour it into a container that you can keep in the fridge. Now taste it. It is genius! So rich and packed with flavor it is an awesome balance to mezcal in a cocktail! It can last for months in the fridge; I have never tested the limits. But the great thing is, you make it once, and then you can keep on using it. Since the recipe only calls for .5oz, it goes a long way. Trust me, it is worth that a small amount of effort.
Back to the cocktail. Just mix all the ingredients into a shaker, shake it with ice, serve over ice, garnish with a lime wedge, and Holy Pancho Viva Batman! Amazing mezcal cocktail #1.
Mezcal Con Pepino (Mezcal With Cucumber)
They have this drink at Zengo in midtown NYC. When I first saw it on the menu, I thought, “Mezcal with cucumber? That could be funky.” But curious, I waived it in. And then, WHOA! It is fantastic! My version may not taste exactly like theirs because I had to work out the proportions, but here it is:
- 2.0oz Mezcal
- 2.0oz fresh lime juice
- .75oz agave nectar
- 2-3 slices muddled cucumber
- 2-3 slices of serrano pepper
- Mixture of crushed chili pequin and sugar on half the rim
The tricky part of this drink is the last ingredient. Chili pequin can be found at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods (it is kind of like the flakes of red pepper you put on a slice of pizza or in chile). But you have to crush it for this cocktail, so that it is has the granularity of salt. This can be done with a mortar and pestle (hard), or with a spice grinder, which you can buy at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20, if you don’t have one. I know, I know: it sounds like a lot of trouble for what goes on the rim, but it makes the drink. After you have crushed the chili pequin, mix a bit with a few teaspoons of sugar. The proportions are like 3-4 teaspoons of sugar to 1 tsp chili peguin. Once you have crushed the chili pequin, it will last forever, and the mixture will last forever too. Once you have this, the drink is easy.
Muddle the cucumber and serrano into a shaker. Pour in the rest. Shake with ice. Pour over ice with lime garnish. Just put the sugar/pequin on half the rim for starters and see how you like it. It is too hot for some (so you could put more sugar in the mix), or they could just ignore it. Now the drink is also spicy given the muddled serrano. Serrano seems to vary in heat so watch the number of slices you muddle in, and adjust to taste. But when you have it all assembled, YOWIE! This drink is awesome. The cucumber is so refreshing, the smoke from the mezcal is present, but not overpowering, and the spiciness brings it all home. Amazing mezcal cocktail #2.
So there you have it. As I said, these cocktails take a bit of work and upfront prep, but the results are SO worth the effort. Can’t wait to hear what you think, and would be even more excited if you have one that tops these!
How about using a good quality grenadine (instead of pomegranate molasses)? Grenadine after all is made with pomegranate juice. Would that work?
It is a fair question, and what you suggest may still make a good cocktail, but it will be very different. The magic in this drink is all about that Pom reduction! Enjoy!
I’ve always preferred a *good* mezcal, over almost any tequila… The smokey notes are enchanting, and far more approachable than Scotch.
I do love a Mexican Firing Squad (thanks for the tip on pomegranate molasses!!!), and I am definitely looking forward to trying the ‘Con Pepino. Along the lines of of that; a slightly spicy coctail… Have you tried a jalapeno/basil margarita?
I totally cheat, and just use a 1:4 ratio of mezcal and Simply Limeade™, spank about 6 leaves of basil (ya gotta spank yer herbs), and one to three, thinly sliced jalapeno wheels. Shake and serve in a pint glass.
It starts with a wonderful “green” flavor, that builds a warmth as you sip it. If you get bit with the heat at the end, then you’re drinking too slowly. The smokiness of mezcal, definitely adds to the depth of the drink. A favorite in the midsummer, for sure.
Pomegranate molasses is an incredible flavor. Great advice to make your own! I usually found it at Kalustyans on Lexington and 29th when I was still in NY!
Thanks Jay. It is so easy to make and oh so good! Let me know when you are back in NYC…..
Divine Firing Squad – we fell in love with Mezcal in Oaxaca about a month ago. I blended a birds eye chilli first, used your recipe and also added a generous spoonful of lemonade and pear marmalade, as well as some pomegranate liqueur – delish!
That sounds damn good!
[…] of the classic cucumber margarita are sure to enjoy its smoky twin, once deemed one of the “two greatest mezcal cocktails known to mankind” by mezcal blogger MezcalPhd. I remember the first time I had cucumber in a cocktail–a […]
Just made my umpteenth Mexican Firing Squad but rimmed half the glass with Sriracha salt….yum!!! I’ve also muddled fresh jalapeño slices in the shaker before mixing and yum again! Great way to enjoy Mezcal. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you like it and I like your additions to the recipe! I have about 40 cocktail recipes in the my new book that you may also enjoy!! Thanks for reading!
Stumbled upon this quite late, but it’s never too late for a good drink, right? Both your listed drinks are delicious. Another great one is The Nefertiti:
1 part mezcal
1 part Royal Combier
3/4 part lemon juice
3/4 part Rothman & Winter cherry liqueur. (I use Cherry Herring when I don’t have the R&W)
Insanely delicious. Cheers
Thanks for this. Sounds yummy! Wonder if Luxardo Maraschino would work instead of R&W (as I have that at home)? Thanks for the contribution!!
You’d want a sweetened cherry brandy / liqueur, not a maraschino liqueur, for the above recipe. Cherry juice + sugar (made into a simple) would do a similar trick.
Will try it. Thanks!
Is this your own recipe? They don’t make it with agave syrup at the Andaz.
I should have said “inspired by the Andaz”. I had to figure out the proportions myself, and I usually use agave nectar as my sweetener…
Cool, thanks for the response. They apparently use:
2oz Herradura Tequila
1oz Lime Juice
1oz Pomegranate Molasses
3 Dashes of Bitters
A traditional Mexican Firing Squad calls for only 3/4 oz of the lime and 3/4 oz grenadine in place of the pom. molasses. It’s also topped with 1 oz of soda water and served in a Collins-like glass. I’m sure you’ve probably tried it, but if not, check out the Oaxaca Old Fashioned – that has a tiny bit of agave syrup in it.
I have a serious original mescal recipe for you to feature. Email me.
I’m drinking with you as we speak.
Indeed you are! Great to meet you and share some Ilegal!