In a month that features Cinco de Mayo in its inaugural week, we’ve picked a margarita to spotlight. (A “mezcalrita,” to be specific. More on that in a minute.) Think we’re unoriginal? Well, if we were offering some frozen, neon-colored, toothache-sweet monstrosity, then I suppose the charge would hold.
Instead, we turned to Don Jose Tequilas on Federal Hill for something different. Something smarter and more authentic. Their bar program is driven largely by owner Jaime Gaviria’s passion for tequila and Mexican culture. Jaime has grown the program to include over 75 high-end sipping tequilas, and travels regularly to Mexico to deepen his knowledge.
For this column, Jaime and his bartender, Claudia Loiselle, created a new drink for us based in mezcal, the smoke-tinged cousin to tequila. A quick primer: Both tequila and mezcal are made from the agave plant, but the production of mezcal involves smoking the agave almost as if for pit barbecue. Mezcal has a long history as the more rustic and commonplace of the two liquors in Mexico, with each region and region-within-a-region serving up its own take.