Tequila Smash

adapted from: Bon Appétit (August 2012 issue)

I was flipping through last month’s issue of  Bon Appétit when I came across a photo spread of what looked like beautiful sno-cone cocktails. The Chartreuse Smash with sage, honey, and Chartreuse had a hint of green, the Bramble was a beautiful berry color, the Classic Whiskey Smash, a nice warm amber, and the Strawberry-Balsamic, a brownish-ruby.  The one with the least amount of color caught my eye because of the intriguing ingredients; Mezcal, fresh pineapple, and cinnamon simple syrup. I was curious as it sounded like nothing I have tasted before, and I love to make flavored simple syrups for cocktails. So to the kitchen I go. I have everything but the main ingredient, Mezcal. Mezcal is similar to tequila in that it is produced from the agave plant, but whereas tequila must be made from blue agave and produced from plants grown in a specific area, mezcal can be produced from any of several species and can be made anywhere in Mexico. It has a smokier flavor than tequila which would have been a nice pairing with the sweet pineapple. However, I didn’t want to drop $75 on the Del Maguey Single Village recommended by the spirits guru at my local market, and I also feel weird about liquor that has a small worm in the bottom of the bottle.* So I figure, tequila smash it is.

4 (1”) cubes fresh pineapple
¾ oz. cinnamon simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 oz. tequila
crushed ice

In a mixing glass, muddle the pineapple and simple syrup. Add tequila. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass, fill halfway with crushed ice, stir, then mound more crushed ice on top. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a pineapple leaf (optional).

Cinnamon Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks

In a pan set over medium heat, heat sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the cinnamon sticks. Let steep. When cool, pour mixture into a glass bottle with lid. (You can remove the cinnamon sticks before bottling, or keep them in there for more flavor later.)

You can also bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the cinnamon sticks, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks, add the sugar to the cinnamon water and heat until the sugar dissolves.

(my cinnamon simple syrup is darker than usual because I ran out of white sugar and had to supplement with turbinado sugar.)

* Bottles of mezcal labeled Mezcal de Gusanitos contain a small worm (the gusano), said to give strength to anyone who swallows it. Cortez was said to have called Mezcal “the nectar of the gods”. Still can’t get over that worm in the bottle though.

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