To ward off the chill on a snowy day, go for Under the Volcano ($14), served hot, with Ilegal Mezcal Joven, Punt e Mes vermouth, ancho-piloncillo syrup and crème de cacao.
Emmanualle. 1052 N. Hancock St. #67. (267) 639-2470
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Charlie Was A Sinner's El Conquistador
When manager Pete Venuto looked for a spirit to pair with fresh carrot juice, he and his team at this Midtown Village vegan lounge found the perfect match in Del Maguey VIDA. Both the carrot and the mezcal bring earthiness to the El Conquistador ($12), balanced with blanco tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. The feel-good elixir is served in a coupe rimmed with salt and Espelette pepper.
As part of a major renovation at his 18-year-old Mexican restaurant in Conshohocken, owner Carlos Melendez debuted a new “Mezcal Bar” there in December. Among the many tequila- and mezcal-based offerings is the citrusy San Cristobal ($12), with Ilegal mezcal, grapefruit and agave syrup. Jalapeño-infused tequila gives it a kick.
At this lively new Chestnut Hill spot by Garces alums George Atterbury and chef Andrew Sabin, the smooth, barrel-aged Mezcal Negroni ($14) spends about three weeks in oak. “The aging rounds everything out,” mellowing the smoke and agave notes of the El Buho mezcal and tempering the bitterness of the Campari, manager Tim Lux says. Time in barrel also adds a subtle layer of vanilla and spice.
Head bartender Phoebe Esmon contends that mezcal is a much more flexible spirit than many people believe, and she makes a case for its versatility with two excellent takes at this Northern Liberties bar.
A Plethora of Piñatas ($14), a guest favorite, is a well-balanced variation on a Daisy cocktail with Del Maguey VIDA, Meletti Amaro, lime juice, house pineapple preserves, smoked rosemary tincture and agave nectar.
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The Fat Ham's “Sidecar”
Inspiration for the Fat Ham’s “Sidecar” ($11) came from barbecued apples, says Dan Carr, head bartender at Kevin Sbraga’s Southern restaurant in University City. But this bright, appley-lemony concoction is no smoke bomb. A refreshing blend of Ilegal Mezcal Joven, Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, lemon juice and honey, it complements the richer dishes on the menu.
Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.'s Temporary Phase
At this Rittenhouse stalwart now led by head bartender Sara Justice, vanilla- and honey-tinged Del Maguey Minero Mezcal mingles with blackberry syrup in The Temporary Phase ($15). Bartender Adam Ravitz, who developed the cocktail, balances it with Siembra Azul Reposado Tequila and Amaro Nonino. But the fun part is the addition of a very Philly tincture made from roasted long hot peppers, which add vegetal flavor and, of course, some heat.
Lê, owner of this sultry Chinatown cocktail den, keeps it simple (as he often does) with the elegant That’s All She Wrote ($12). The drink has just two ingredients: Wahaka Joven Espadin Mezcal and Cocchi Americano Rosa (an Italian aperitif), stirred and served up, with a lemon twist. The pink hue and pretty rose petal garnish might suggest a delicate flavor profile, but there’s no mistaking the smoky, earthy sweetness of the organic mezcal on the first sip.
When owner David Suro-Piñera upgraded the cocktail program at his Locust Street institution a few years ago, he turned to his friend Phil Ward, co-owner of the agave-centric Mayahuel in New York City, for help. Ward famously invented the Oaxaca Old Fashioned in 2007 when he was behind the bar at Death & Co. in the East Village. Tequilas’ iteration ($13) features Suro-Piñera’s own Siembra Azul Reposado Tequila, Del Maguey Mezcal, agave nectar and Angostura bitters. “It’s one of my favorite cocktails,” says Suro-Piñera. “It really shows how well agave spirits can coexist.”