Do you have a go-to cocktail? Whenever people ask me what my favorite drink is, a Negroni almost immediately comes to mind. This classic libation traditionally consists of gin, Campari, and vermouth. And while I love this drink mixed up like the original, you know I am always ready to put my own twist on an old classic. This time around I have swapped out the gin, replacing it with the iconic smokey flavors of a delicious mezcal. And let me tell you, the result is an incredible mezcal cocktail that certainly gives the classic a run for its money!
The best way to describe mezcal is as tequila’s smoky sister. And although the two spirits are distilled from the agave plant, their major similarities stop there. Mezcal is created through a process that involves cooking the agave in pits in the ground, which is how the spirit gets it’s full-bodied, smoky flavor. And while the mezcal is still a bit outside of the mainstream here in the US, it is considered to be one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Mexico. And let me tell you, while I was hesitant to use it in recipes at first–today I completely understand why! This spirit provides a depth of flavor that compliments a range of ingredients in a unique and interesting way. I highly recommend giving it a try!
Step 1: Put all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and swish to chill.
Tip: Be careful with the liquid smoke! Too much will overpower the drink. (I used the mesquite liquid smoke from Wright’s)
Step 2: Strain into a rocks glass over a rock.
Step 3: Garnish with a rosemary sprig and orange peel.
Step 4: Light the rosemary sprig with a kitchen torch and extinguish before serving.
Now, this Smoky Negroni wouldn’t be anything without a little bit of well…smoke. And while mezcal brings some to the table, I decided to turn up the heat. Quite literally. This recipe calls for a little bit of fire!
As you can see in the photos, I carefully lit the rosemary garnish, allowing it to smolder for a few seconds before extinguishing. Whats the point of this extra step? Well, smoking cocktails is done to add depth of flavor to your drink, creating a layer of aroma that makes the sipping experience that much better. When you go to take a sip, not only does your cocktail look great, but smells amazing too.