So, sure, this cocktail may be a bit aggressive for a Tuesday, but it’s the first day of spring, yo! We made it through winter, so I think we all deserve a Charred Grapefruit Mezcal Paloma. Or two! You get a cocktail, you get a cocktail, I get a cocktail, YOU get a cocktail! Wait, one more for me . . . weeeeeeeee!
SPRING. I always get super excited once Spring hits. Perhaps it’s because I’m a dreamer and all the sparkles and dreams dancing around in my little pea brain are all still entirely possible. Or perhaps it’s because I’m one Charred Grapefruit Mezcal Paloma in. Meh, either way. Yesterday, we made Baked Fish Tacos with Sunrise Citrus Salsa and Lime Crema, and these Charred Grapefruit Mezcal Palomas go excellent with them. Let’s talk about why, cow pie!
Charred Grapefruit Mezcal Paloma
All Tequilas Are Mezcals, But Not All Mezcals Are Tequilas
Mezcal is an agave-based liquor with a smokey flavor profile. What’s the difference between tequila and mezcal? Although tequila and mezcal are produced in certain areas, there is some overlap. The key differences between the two are the agave used to produce them and the production processes. Tequila, by law, can only be made from blue agave. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from 30+ varieties, though most are made from espadín agave. Therefor, all tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas.
The variance in taste is a result of the differing production processes. While tequila is typically steamed and then distilled in copper pots, mezcal is traditionally cooked in pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal before distilling in clay pots. Artisanal mezcal produced in this traditional manner is what imparts a smokey flavor. I’m a totaly newb when it comes to mezcals. For more awesome information on mezcal check out Mezcal PhD (heart this site).
Grapefruits Are Great, But Charred Is Better
Why go traditional grapefruit juice when you can char your grapefruit and impart an even smokier flavor into that cocktail? It couldn’t be easier and your friends will be super impressed with your smokey flair . . . unless you set the fire alarm off. They might not be as impressed . . . nor will your significant other, ahem. Better just keep a window open to be safe.
Bitters Are Sweet, But Lime Juice Is Sour
Bitters are “sweet” as in “cool,” like the kids say. Actually though, bitters are, well, bitter or sour, but they can also be bittersweet. If you’ve been here before, you know I have a slight love affair with them. I’m adding a dash of Bittercube’s Jamaican No. 2 bitters because it’s bright and acidic with grapefruit and hibiscus overtones. No bitters? No problem. Totally optional. Either way, squeeze some fresh lime juice in there.
Bubbles Are Awesome, And Make Everything Awesomer
Because we are using charred grapefruit juice instead of grapefruit soda, I’m topping my Charred Grapefruit Mezcal Paloma with grapefruit-flavored club soda. I prefer my drinks not to be overly sweet. If you like something sweeter, use grapefruit soda, lemon-lime soda, or add a little sugar.
Don’t Play With Matches . . . Unless You’re Drinking
JK, you guys, JK. Don’t play with them. Just use them like a profesh bartender would, mkay? Use them to make a flamed twist. This part is totally over the top and completely unnecessary, but we’re trying to impress people, remember?
The gist of the flamed twist is to squeeze citrus oil over the match to impart a caramelized, smokey flavor into the drink. Orrrrrr it’s to make a mini citrus firework. Look, I don’t know about all that fancy schmancy talk about caramelized citrus oil. Maybe, MAYBE if I was having my mezcal on the rocks. But what I do know is it’s really fun to make a mini firework over your cocktail . . . in a very professional manner. So, depending on your crowd, you can either tell them you’re imparting a smokey caramelized flavor into their drink, or tell them to watch while you create citrus fireworks . . . up to you.
Although I’m no pro, I did flame about 100 twists in an attempt to get a decent photograph (and still didn’t get it, but you get the point, right?). But here’s what you want to do. Cut a piece of citrus peel about an inch big without much pith. Light a match, hold it over the cocktail, pass the peel over the match a few times to warm up the oil, then squeeze and twist oil over your cocktail. Citrus fireworks. F*cking magic.
Happy first day of spring! Are you celebrating?
Charred Grapefruit Mezcal Paloma with a Flamed Twist
- 1 grapefruit
- pinch of sugar
- 2 ounces mezcal
- bitters I like Bittercube Jamaican No. 2
- lime juice
- club soda go for grapefruit flavor
- flamed twist garnish (optional)
- Heat cast iron skillet over high heat. Cut grapefruit in half horizontally. Sprinkle with sugar. One skillet is hot, place grapefruit in skillet flesh side down. Check occasionally and remove once charred to your liking. There will be smoke! Keep a fan handy or a close window open. Once cool, squeeze juice from grapefruit and set aside.
- In a shaker, combine mezcal, 2–4 ounces grapefruit juice, dash of bitters, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Shake vigorously. Strain into a prepared glass of ice with salted rim. Top with club soda. Give 'er a quick stir.
- Garnish with a flamed twist.