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Mezcal 101 with Clandestino

Clandestino Miami opened their doors on Washington Avenue in South Beach back in 2012 as a dive bar serving up craft beers and standard liquors. But when owners Emanuel “Manu” González and David “El Cuervo” Alvarez, both of Mexican origin, noticed mezcal gaining popularity all over the world, they knew they had to put the Mexican spirit center stage. Over the past two years, they’ve slowly transformed the craft beer bar into a Mexican mezcaleria.

Mezcal, a smoky Mexican liquor produced from agave, is kinda like tequila’s cousin. While tequila is made only with blue agave, mezcal can be made from more than 30 different varieties of agave. The spirit’s distinct smoky flavor comes from roasting agave hearts in a fire pit for several days to bring out the plant’s natural sugars. The roasted pits are then ground into a liquid pulp and fermented in a wooden barrel. Finally, it’s distilled and bottled. (Sometimes, a worm found inside the agave plant is added to the bottle — but that’s pretty much just a marketing gimmick.)

It’s made in a few different cities in Mexico. Some of the bottles found on the shelves at Clandestino come from places like Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Zacatecas.

Ahead of our free mezcal tasting tomorrow night at Clandestino, we popped into the mezcaleria on South Beach to learn how they make some of their best cocktails. That way, even if you can’t come sip with us, you can still knock one back at home.

La Sangrona

1 oz Gracias a Dios mezcal
1 oz red wine, typically a dark and bold wine like a Malbec
1/2 oz Mandarine Napoléon liqueur
3/4 oz hibiscus syrup
1/2 oz orange juice
1/4 oz lime juice

Mix it all together and shake it in a shaker. Serve it in a wine glass or a mason jar. Add garnish with orange slice and rosemary. Top it off with a splash of soda water

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El Diablito

1 1/2 oz jalapeño-infused Gracias a Dios mezcal
3/4 oz hibiscus liqueur
3/4 oz passion fruit purée
1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar

Shake the ingredients up in a cocktail shaker and and serve into a martini glass lined with a chili rim. Add a jalapeño slice as a garnish.

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El Bandido

1 oz Illegal mezcal
1 oz Bulleit bourbon
1/4 oz Ancho Reyes chile liqueur
1/4 oz house-made symple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Xocolatl Mole bitters

Pour the ingredients in a large mixing glass and stir with a barspoon. Serve into an old fashioned glass with a big ice cube. Garnish with one cinnamon stick and one orange peel.