Fact: We know you love your mojitos as a rite of summer, along with your art fairs and skinny-dipping in the lake, but every once in a while, you should refresh your summer sipper. Mezcal is the summer spirit that’s having a moment right now. But ban the memory of that dusty bottle with a worm which you might recall from spring break many years ago. This ancient drink from Oaxaca is making a sophisticated splash on patios all over town.
Mezcal and tequila’s relationship is similar to bourbon and whiskey’s: Just like all bourbons are whiskies, but not all whiskies are bourbon, all tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. Mezcal can be made from different varieties of agave, while tequila is produced specifically from the blue agave cactus and only in Jalisco, Mexico.
The Sophisticate The Rock and Mire at Meritage blends mezcal with anejo tequila, Byrrh (a red wine–based apéritif), and orange blossom water with a touch of black salt for an elegant and refreshing patio sipper. 410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670, meritage-stp.com
Taste Test Try a flight of mezcals to get acquainted with the drink, and grab a taco to soak it up at Jefe Urban Hacienda. The St. Anthony Main restaurant recently opened with a healthy list of tequila and mezcal. 219 SE Main St., Mpls., 612-255-2000, jefeminneapolis.com
Go Big or Go Home At Parlour, under the Adventurous category on the summer drinks menu, find the Grave Makers and Gun Slingers drink. It’s made with dark rum, mezcal, coffee, ancho chiles, cinnamon, cream, and chocolate bitters. 730 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-354-3135, boroughmpls.com
Mezcal for Breakfast Mezcal with your eggs? Sure! Consider the Oaxacan in Memphis drink at Hi-Lo Diner. It brings a sweet and rich pairing of whiskey with mezcal, touched with honey, cut with amaro, and hit with a bit of thyme tincture. 4020 E. Lake St., Mpls, 612-353-6568, hi-lo-diner.com