Pairing Mezcal with Food (and Coffee)

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The mezcal movement remains hot across the country. Trendy restaurants like Evarito’s in Norwalk, Connecticut, now boast impressive collections of this Mexican spirit. Consumers have learned more about the category, as they taste through brands with a wide range of flavors.

The next step in their mezcal education: food pairings. We recently visited Evarito’s for a talk, and tasting, with Owner Christian Burns and Executive Chef Hugo Orozco Carrillo. The topic was matching mezcal with the cuisine. Below are pairings that those two mezcal aficionados recommended.

Spicy Tuna Tostadas with Foggy Oasis Mezcal Cocktail

Among the best-selling non-margarita cocktails at Evarito’s, Foggy Oasis is Del Maguey Vidal mezcal, lemon juice, Giffard passion fruit liqueur, and smoked rosemary agave. It’s a smooth, refreshing drink that perfectly blends sweet and smoky, with botanical notes.

The Foggy Oasis cocktail at Evarito’s in Norwalk: Del Maguey Vidal mezcal, lemon juice, Giffard passion fruit liqueur, and smoked rosemary agave.

For this drink, Orozco Carrillo recommends the tuna tostada, with salsa negra, charred onions and peppers, Serrano mayo, and leche de tigre. “The creaminess of the tuna goes well with the rosemary and smoke in the cocktail,” he says.

Raw Bar with Banhez or Bruxo

For lovers of raw oysters, clams, shrimp or ceviche, Orozco Carrillo recommends a neat-sipping mezcal along the lines of Banhez or Bruxo. “You don’t want to eat fresh seafood like this with too sharp of a spirit,” he says.

Those two brands offer more minerality, matching the raw seafood flavors, with smokiness on the finish. The minerality and spice on the back end can also help bring out the brininess of oysters or clams.

Lamb Barboca Tacos with Piedra Almas or Bruxo Pechugo

Pechugo is Spanish for “breast.” Here the term references the raw chicken breasts hung over the still during production at Piedra Almas or Bruxo. Pechugo mezcals also undergo additional distilling with fruits, grains and nuts for added flavors. The result is a less-smoky, more-fruity mezcal with a hint of gaminess.

Evarito’s cooks its lamb for five hours with a dry-pepper rub, and plates it in a taco with grilled onion and salsa roja. The rich, meaty flavor pairs well with the spice and slight gaminess of a pechugo mezcal.

Grilled Cactus with Nuestra Soledad San Balthazar Guel.

Grilled Cactus with Nuestra Soledad San Balthazar Guel

This joven espadin mezcal from Nuestra is of the notably grassy variety, with citrus notes. These flavors pair perfectly with the grilled charred nopal cactus, which tastes somewhere between asparagus and steak.

Espresso Coffee and Del Maguey Santa Cantarina Minas

The village of Santa Cantarina Minas produces a mezcal for Del Maguey that’s less grassy, with more of a citrus flavor. Orozco Carrillo will pour a touch in his espresso for an after-dinner pick-me-up that perfectly concludes a mezcal pairing dinner.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece 8 American Whiskey Trends in 2019.

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