After tackling the world of The Martini Cocktail and The Outdated-Customary in his earlier works, Robert Simonson has now focussed his consideration on the exploding reputation of agave drinks. In his newest ebook, Mezcal + Tequila Cocktails: Blended Drinks For The Golden Age Of Agave, the New York Instances contributor, and winner of the 2020 Spirits Award for Greatest Cocktail Ebook, options over 60 cocktail recipes that showcase the vary and flexibility of Mexico’s favourite exports. I spoke with Simonson by cellphone to debate his journey by means of discovering these spirits and the most effective cocktails to make with them.
How does a cocktail author select which tequila and mezcal drinks to order when engaged on a ebook?
I make selections as a result of I do know what works and what doesn’t. And if I see a wierd mixture, it’s nearly like a dare. What does that style like? That strategy pays off about 50 p.c of the time. You stroll away with an unique expertise. I used to be at a bar in Tulsa, and there was a drink known as PAN AM, created by Ben Walker. It had tequila, chartreuse, absinthe and creme de pamplemousse — and I used to be like, okay, problem accepted! It was improbable.
What makes this the “golden age of agave?”
These spirits have been made for very long time — it lastly dawned on the remainder of the world we needs to be listening to them. Worldwide appreciation has skyrocketed in a brief span of time, and there are much more tequilas and and mezcals out there outdoors of Mexico. People have huge selections now, and often any restaurant or bar cocktail checklist may have mezcal and tequila drinks. In lots of massive cities you might also have a bar specializing in them. That wasn’t the case ten years in the past.
What induced this surge in reputation?
I credit score bartenders quiet a bit. They’ve this evangelistic streak after they discover one thing they wish to drink and blend with, they usually need the world to learn about it. They did this with gin, rye whiskey after which liqueurs like chartreuse. It took them longer to get to tequila and mezcal, however after they did they approached it with the identical ardour that they do nearly each spirit. This began occurring in late aughts, and I used to be amongst them the folks they transformed.
How did they convert you?
I used to be educated bar by bar, bartender by bartender. It was a revelation how effectively these combine into cocktails. One of many locations I realized so much was Mayahuel, Phil Ward’s bar within the East Village. It opened in 2007, they usually mentioned we’re not simply going to serve mezcal and tequila — it’s ALL we’re going to do. I went in there so much. It was one-stop-shopping for understanding how scrumptious and versatile these spirits are.
You will have much more of your personal recipes on this ebook than your earlier ones.
I’m barely extra assured in my talents to provide you with a drink — one would hope after 15 years you get slightly smarter at making an unique cocktail. I didn’t labor over them for hours, I made a decision to see if I may hit on issues easy and scrumptious. The Camerón Cocktail relies on the Cameron’s Kick from the Twenties. The unique mixes Scotch and Irish whiskey, so I puzzled if it could work with tequila and mezcal. The outcome confirmed simply how adaptable these spirits are. I believe tequilas and mezcals are as mixable as gins.
For folks new to mezcals and tequilas, what are two drinks to start out with from the ebook?
An apparent one is the Mezcal Margarita. It’s an awesome intro, as a result of you possibly can discover the distinction straight away. It’s edgier, spicier, smokier. Similar with a Mezcal Negroni. For tequila, the Siesta is an efficient intro into its versatility. It’s a twist on a Hemmingway Daiquiri, with grapefruit juice and Campari, and it’ll be stunning for some how straightforward it’s to drink.
And which recipes will shock extra seasoned cocktail drinkers?
The Polar Bear, from Trick Canine in San Francisco. It combines mezcal with blanc vermouth, but in addition crème de menthe. I wouldn’t of thought these issues combine collectively, however surprisingly it’s a improbable cocktail. For tequila, the Sean and Juan, created by Brad Smith in New Orleans. Latitude 29 is a good tiki bar, and most of the people wouldn’t affiliate agave with tiki drinks, however they got here up with one right here. Just like the Polar Bear, it’s an uncommon mixture of flavors — tequila, Irish whiskey, Bénédictine, crème de cacao — that doesn’t appear to be it should work on paper. But it surely does.
What are your ideas on celebrities and overseas firms maybe reaping extra monetary advantages from this indigenous spirit than the folks truly from the area?
It’s an enormous concern. Persons are speaking about this, and rightly so. A lot has modified within the final two years since I began scripting this ebook — looks as if each week there’s a new celeb tequila. It’s nice that these spirits are being celebrated and extra persons are attending to know them. It’s additionally necessary that the credit score and the cash go to the people who find themselves creating them and accountable for these heritage spirits. The bartenders I labored with for this ebook care very a lot about these points.
Mezcal + Tequila Cocktails: Blended Drinks For The Golden Age Of Agave, from Ten Velocity Press, is offered on April 6, 2021.