What Mezcal Is and How It Can Be Used Creatively in Cocktails

Jim Kearns, the head bartender at New York City’s Tijuana Picnic who’s known for his wonderful Mexican-influenced libations, spoke with Potluck Video about Mezcal, the smoky spirit derived from the maguey agave plant; what it is, how it’s made and how it can be used creatively in cocktails.

Mezcal is an agave distillate. Mezcal is an umbrella category for most people, for all agave products – a common way to describe agave distillates. All tequila, all agave distillates are technically mezcal, but agave from Oaxaca is what we’re going to be talking about today. Mezcal is actually traditionally smoked in a stone pit in the earth for for anywhere from 3 to 30 days. Mezcal can be made from a wide variety of plants. They all have different flavor profiles and where they’re grown, who distills them, how they’re distilled and how they’re smoked will influence how they taste. Tequila tends to have a peppery, light vegetal quality to it whereas mescal tends to be more earthy and smoky with some floral notes.