Viva Mezcal: Mixing, Sipping & Other Adventures with Mexico’s Original Handcrafted Spirit, written by Lindsey Moore and Jennifer Boudinot, features over 50 cocktail recipes and the history behind Mezcal- a smoky liquor made in Mexico from slow-roasted agave plants. Highlights include the Oaxacan Negroni, Sunset in the Sur, Lost in the Supermarket, Grand Julius, and more. I will also be sharing their recipe for El Fusilado following the review.
Disclaimer and Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Weldon Owen in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Consume alcoholic beverages at your own risk and liability. This recipe is intended only for those over the age of 21 (in the United States). Please drink responsibly.
Lindsey Moore and Jennifer Boudinot
Lindsey Moore is originally from Texas and now the head bartender at La Loba Cantina in New York.
Jennifer Boudinot is a writer and editor whose work has appeared on Paste, National Lampoon, Huffington Post.
Previous cookbooks include The Book of Dangerous Cocktails, The Great Meatballs Book, and Gourmet Pizza Made Easy. They both live in Brooklyn, New York.
Before receiving Viva Mezcal, I knew very little about making cocktails (so far I have only shared the Black-Eyed Susan, New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch, and Moscato Sangria) and even less about mezcal.
Luckily, the authors begin with a thorough introduction of Mezcal, a liquor that has been made in Mexico for hundreds of years from slow-roasted agave plants.
Chapters are divided according to the following: Introduction, Sipping Mezcal, Mixing Mezcal, and Further Reading.
In 1995, the Appellation of Origin (AO) was granted to Mezcal by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the agave-based spirit can only be made in Oaxaca, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacan, and recently Puebla.
Generally, mezcal is served straight with sal de gusano (a salt mixture with Mexican chiles and dried, ground worm) on the side, but cocktails are becoming more popular in modern mezcalerías and restaurants.
For beginners like me, a helpful chart has been included on what to look for when choosing a mezcal along with tasting tips, the different types of mezcal (joven/unaged, resposado/rested, añejo/aged), and even the varieties of agave (Espadín is the most common and used for 80 percent of mezcals).
You will even learn all the basics and foundations to help build flavors in the cocktails such has how to infuse mezcal, make fresh juice, create homemade syrups (simple, canela, piloncillo, pomegranate), and even food pairings (plus a recipe for Chile-Lime Peanuts).
The photography is provided by Mark A. Gore. Every cocktail recipe is accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished drink. There is even a visual guide for cocktail glasses and barware.
Measurements for the cocktails are listed in ounces and milliliters. Each recipe also includes a headnote with background information and helpful tips.
El Fusilado is a cocktail developed by Harris Tooley. Mezcal joven (unaged) is paired with a tawny port and flavored with fresh lime juice and cinnamon syrup.
The ingredients are shaken vigorously with ice until cold and well blended, then double-strained into a copper mug with crushed ice. To serve, the cocktail is sprinkled with powdered sugar and ground cinnamon along with a star anise and cinnamon stick for garnish.
To make the cinnamon syrup for El Fusilado, add 1 stick canela or 1/2 stick cinnamon for every 3/4 cup (96 grams) of sugar and equal amounts water. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, then allow the mixture to sit (covered) for 1-2 hours before using.
The authors mention setting the garnished cinnamon stick on fire then blowing it out to have the stick burn like incense and create an impressive look. I was going to try this before realizing that we have not stocked up on anything fire-starting related since the move.
I also made the Mezcal Margarita, Smooth Criminal, Manila, and Bat’s Knees.
The Mezcal Margarita is the first and easiest cocktail in the book. You simply shake together mezcal joven, lime juice, blue agave nectar in a cocktail shaker and strain into a slated rocks glass over ice. While the authors recommend going to the bar to have a proper frozen margarita, they do provide a variation on how to make one at home.
Smooth Criminal, created by acclaimed bartender Carlos Abeyta, was a great summer cocktail featuring mezcal joven. The mezcal is well-blended with peach purée, lime, and lemon juice. The mixture is double-strained into a rocks glass over ice and served immediately.
The Manila cocktail comes from Gabriela Martinez Benecke. Muddled Mandarin orange wedges and sake are paired with mezcal joven, maple syrup, ginger juice, and fresh lemon juice. It can be garnished simply with a Mandarin orange twist.
Bat’s Knees was a favorite of mine. A version of the classic Bee’s Knees, this one is named after the animal that pollinates agave: bats. Sage-infused mezcal is shaken vigorously with a honey syrup and lemon juice. After double-straining into a stemmed glass, the drink is topped off with sparkling wine and garnished with a sage leaf wrapped in a lemon twist.
This small book (156 pages and 5.8 x 7.8 inches, 14.7 x 20 centimeters) is a great pick whether you interested in learning more about mezcal or are just looking for new cocktail ideas. The cocktail recipes are arranged from easy to complex.
Having a specialty liquor store nearby will be helpful for locating ingredients such as (of course) mezcal, bitters, Ancho Reyes Verde, Campari, sweet vermouth, elderflower liqueur, maraschino liqueur, Lillet Rosé, Jägermeister, rum, Suze liqueur, crème de cassis, and more.
Most of the flavor in mezcal comes from the agave itself, so mezcal joven (unaged) made from Espadín is the type used for most of the cocktails.
El Fusilado Recipe
Excerpt from Viva Mezcal
- 2 ounces (60 milliliters) mezcal joven preferably Ilegal
- 1/2 ounce (15 milliliters) RL Buller Victoria Tawny Port
- 1/4 ounce (8 milliliters) fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce (15 milliliters) Cinnamon Syrup recipe in note below
- Powdered sugar for sprinkling
- Ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- Star anise for garnish
- Cinnamon stick for garnish
- In a cocktail shaker with ice, vigorously shake together all the liquid ingredients until cold and well blended.
- Double-strain into a copper mug over crushed ice.
- Sprinkle with the powdered sugar and ground cinnamon. Garnish with the star anise and a cinnamon stick and serve.