Heading into Tales of the Cocktail 2018 next week, I find myself thinking back to my top five cocktails of last year’s Tales. Some may prove continually elusive: will I ever have that many Rutte flavors before me ever again? Do I trust myself to experiment with chicken essence? Will I ever find the patience to make my own vanilla grapefruit shrub or track down a commercial version? Unlikely.
But I have attempted to recreate two of those top five.
New York City bartenders have been leading the country when it comes to going beyond both tequila and mezcal. Most notable is the rise of sotol, a spirit distilled from the Dasylirion wheeleri succulent (which isn’t technically an agave, but is a close relative). Other agave spirits taking root in New York bars include bacanora and raicilla.
Below are suggestions for some of the most interesting margarita alternatives worth seeking out in New York.
Plan an agave-soaked celebration without a single drop of tequila
(Originally published on UpOut SF May 2, 2017. I’ve previously shared bonus information and additional recommendations right this way.)
Did you know that San Francisco is instrumental in defending agave sustainability so future generations can enjoy the plentiful agave beverages we enjoy today? For a city whose drinking history is soaked in pisco, whiskey, and beer, San Francisco certainly claims above-average agave expertise.
If you’re interested in breaking tequila traditions without sacrificing agave indulgence, our list honors cocktails made with mezcal, sotol, bacanora, and raicilla.
Go for the Coco Puff-infused Breakfast Negroni decorated with orange peel stars and birds; stay for the Chi Wa Wa cocktail with Por Siempre sotol, La Gitana Manzanilla sherry, Plantation Pineapple Rum, lemon, honey, and housemade “spicy monk mix.”
In the mood for a sotol taste test showdown? El Jolgorio Sotol is on the spirits list.
The low-ABV trend stirs nothing more in me than polite disinterest. Brunchtime day drinking elicits a shrug. Frankly, I thought no spritz could move me. But at Time Out’s Bar Awards Finale at the Chapel in San Francisco, I found the lesson I needed to make me a spritz believer.
In a throwback to college benders and unwise drinking choices, I was recently reminded that some mezcals still include a worm in the bottle. The spirit renaissance has lifted mezcal into such rarified company that it’s a blast to read this 1999 Straight Dope column about “tequila worms” and remember the disdain in which it used to be held.
Apart from some unwise choices in college, the majority of my experience with be-wormed bottles is from Poltergeist.