I was absolutely delighted to receive an order of exotic spirits this week, which had been hunted down specifically because I'd never seen their ilk in any of my local liquor stores. Among them was a bottle of Sombra mezcal, a spirit I'd been itching to experiment with. I popped it open almost immediately. "Whoa!" I called to my wife, "this smells like somebody chucked a pineapple into a campfire." To which she wrinkled her nose and agreed.
Turns out, I wasn't far off. The process of making mezcal, a cousin of tequila, consists of digging a large pit, filling it with hot rocks, then tossing in a bunch of agave piña (also the Spanish for "pineapple", which it closely resembles). After roasting for days, these are mashed and left to ferment, finally resulting in a powerful spirit that tastes something like tequila infused with cigar smoke. The silver Sombra mezcal that I received is particularly intense, and it took some taming. Still, it holds its flavor very well in cocktails, and lends a resounding smoky flavor.
This particular drink was just me playing around, and is named after the place where Sombra is made: Oaxaca, Mexico. Silver jewelry shops are a major component of the tourist trade there.
1 oz Sombra mezcal
1 oz pineapple-infused tequila (I used resposado
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz kumquat syrup
1 dash lime juice
Shake with plentiful ice and pour into an old-fashioned glass; garnish with a caramelized pineapple slice if you're feeling fancy, or nothing if you're feeling lazy.