It’s taken a while for Baton Rouge to come around to tequila’s cooler, smokier cousin, mezcal. But the rustic liquor is showing up on more local cocktail menus these days.
For the uninitiated, mezcal and tequila have the same starting point in the harvested agave plant, but that’s where the similarities end. The core of the agave is distilled differently for each. For mezcal production, the core is first roasted to get that distinct smoky essence before the fermentation process begins.
Distillation science aside, the result is a liquor that’s as complex and varied as wine, with different mezcals showcasing the terroir and flavor of the nine Mexican states certified to produce the spirit.
You can sip it—and really, mezcal is made for slow sipping—at several bars around town. Or, ease into its distinct features via a cocktail balanced with plenty of citrus. Orange slices are the traditional accessory. Save the lime wedges for the tequila shots.
MEZCAL COCKTAILS IN BATON ROUGE
At Blue Corn Tequila & Tacos
Mezcal is mixed with fresh orange juice and lime for this twist on the tequila-based Paloma cocktail. bluecornrestaurant.com
Smoke on the Watermelon
At Olive or Twist
Curacao, lime juice, watermelon and vanilla bean-infused agave nectar add some sweet contrasts to mezcal, along with a Himalayan salt rim. oliveortwistbr.com
A Night in Oaxaca
At Superior Grill on Highland
Montelobos mezcal meets fresh lime juice, pineapple juice, St. Germain, a boozy cherry garnish and a rim of chili salt. highland.superiorgrill.com
At The Overpass Merchant
El Charro Silver tequila and Vida mezcal join forces with Curacao and orgeat in this surprisingly smooth drink. theoverpassmerchant.com
At The Radio Bar
Cocchi Americano, Japanese chili-lime bitters and lavender and sea salt syrup add a lighter touch to mezcal in this spring menu highlight. theradiobar.com