Del Maguey's "single-village" mezcal series almost single-handedly pioneered the image of the agave spirit's makeover from "tequila's wormy rotgut cousin" into one of world's most intriguing premium pours — smoky and mysteriously complex, made to 400-year-old artisanal Oaxacan traditions. Accordingly, most are quite pricey. The relatively recent release of Vida, however, brings a less expensive bottle to their line, still ringing with roasted agave smoke, sandalwood, and bright citrus notes, but affordable enough to also use as a blender. And Philadelphia's best cocktaileros have obliged.
At the Farmer's Cabinet, Giuseppe D'Angelo sees mezcal as a natural for fans of smoky Islay Scotch, and turns this Mexi-twist on an Old Fashioned, blending 2 ounces of Vida with half an ounce of simple syrup and two dashes each of Fee Bros. orange and Angostura bitters. Stir over ice two minutes, then strain over a big ice cube with zest of lemon and orange. At Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., meanwhile, Colin Shearn taps mezcal's natural citrusy tones with this simple soda-pop riff on a Paloma – 2 ounces of mezcal and the juice of one lime over ice, topped with the fizz of Jarritos grapefruit soda. (Bueno with tamarindo, too.) ¡Feliz Cinco de Mezcal Mayo!
Del Maguey Mezcal Vida, $37.99, available May 1 in Pennsylvania (code 30316) at finewineandgoodspirits.com.
— Craig LaBan