Mezcal is a tequilalike spirit made from agave, but smokier and rougher around the edges. Spotted at: San Francisco’s Elixir bar, in the Isla Zapoteca cocktail (pictured), with 1.5 ounces each of Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal and lemon juice, 1 ounce clover honey syrup, 1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum, and a splash of soda water; written about on food scribe Josh Ozersky’s The Feedbag blog; and at Mayahuel, the new NYC tequila lair, where it’s mixed into drinks like the Smoked Palomino, made with amontillado sherry, mezcal, grapefuit, and lime.
H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of Elixir, says, “There is no mezcal of quality that has a worm in the bottle.” However, in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the majority of mezcal is made, people often drink it with a side of sal de gusano, a.k.a. worm salt, a seasoning made from ground-up worms that live in the agave plant. Ehrmann sometimes uses it to rim cocktails like the one pictured.