The past few years have brought an increasing fascination with mezcal, the smoky agave spirit. At Laurel Hardware, that interest has led to the opening of Mezcal Bar, tucked behind a curtain at the front of the restaurant. With a speakeasy vibe, it serves up seasonal cocktails infused with nearly 100 different mezcals.
Bartender Dustin Shaw says the Lila Downs is one of the more popular cocktails. “The point was to offer a refreshing, somewhat light-feeling, agave-based sour that wasn’t sweetened, weak or a margarita,” he says. “I’ve long been a fan of bitter, herbaceous and boozy drinks, and this is yet another result of that.” The build sees a mix of green chartreuse, lime, La Niña del Mezcal Espadin, Casamigos Blanco Tequila and Giffard Banane du Brésil liqueur. It’s shaken, strained into a coupe glass that’s been rinsed with St. George Absinthe, then topped with a rosemary-mint foam.
“The resulting flavors and sensations are pretty interesting,” says Shaw. “When you’re about to take a sip, the nose of anise wakes up your senses, then the foam’s minty fresh flavor provides a nice, cooling sensation that gives way to a surprising amount of body. The Banane du Brésil liqueur is just the right foil to all the sweet smoke of the mezcal, the herbs, and sour, so that it’s extremely easy to drink and has an amazing mouthfeel.” Guest response has been positive. “They have been loving this drink since the night we opened, and it’s definitely the kind of thing that once ordered by one, everyone has to have one.”