5 Mezcal Cocktails in Portland for Cinco de Mayo

by Karen Locke on Apr 28, 2014 in Roundups for Barwares

With Cinco de Mayo approaching you may be wondering about the difference between mezcal and tequila. Mezcal is the smoky, older cousin of tequila. If you’re having trouble understanding how they are related (yes, that rough-around-the-edges one is still part of the family) look first at the agave they are made from.

Tequila has to be made Blue Agave, while mezcal can be made from over 30 different varieties of agave. Mezcal is produced differently than tequila giving the spirit its smoky flavor; The pinas (pinecones) from the agave are “cooked” underground.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to get out there and do some taste testing for yourself. Here are five mezcal drinks we love, just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

El Guapo
The Box Social (3971 N. Williams Ave.; 503-288-1111)
The swanky North Williams Ave. drinking Parlour is dark but inviting. Step past the curtains and have a seat because one of our favorite mezcal drinks in the city is mixed here. Served tall, over ice and with a salt and pepper rim, this tequila and passionfruit cocktail has Del Maguey Vida Mezcal shot floating in an inverted lime peel. The small “cup” of mezcal floats in the drink until you’ve taken enough sips to submerge the shot into the drink. It’s creative, just the right amount of smoky and sweet, and one we’re ready to head back for.

The Agave (pictured above)
Smallwares/Barwares (4605 NE Fremont St.; 971-229-0995)
The Agave cocktail can be ordered from either the Smallwares or Barwares menu. Barwares is the back half of the restaurant devoted to happy hour plates, cocktails, sake and beer. Order The Agave for a taste of both tequila and mezcal plus grenadine, lime juice, ginger syrup. This one is shaken and served up with a lime wheel. The mezcal isn't masked by sweetness, and the grenadine doesn't become cloying before the last sip. Like many cocktails at Barwares, The Agave is as solid as they come.

The High Desert Swizzle
Kask (527 SW 12th Ave; 503-241-7163)
In dark corners of hotels, in basements and tucked behind other restaurants of different names are some of the best dishes and cocktails the city has to offer. Portland’s sneaky like that. One such hidden gem is Kask, located downtown, adjacent to Grüner. Try The High Desert Swizzle made from Del Maguy Vida mezcal, strawberry shrub, lime, and demerara sugar. The name comes from the swizzle stick used to make the drink frothy. In addition to tequila and mezcal cocktails, mezcal by the shot is available starting at $5.

Hacha Diabolica  
Luchador Bar & Lounge (4835 N. Albina Ave.; 503-517-9347)
Owned by Kenny Hill (Trebol, and Higgins) and Justin King (Rooks Barbershop), Luchador is located in Trebol’s old space on N. Albina Ave. At this North Portland Luchador-themed bar you’ll find 100% agave tequilas and mezcals, house-infused tequilas, margaritas (like the Luchador— a marg with a beer stuck in it), tequila flights, and Mexican and South American-inspired food. There’s not only Power Hour from 6-7 PM daily that includes $1 PBR and $1 tequila shots, there’s one cocktail in particular you need to order. The Hacha Diabolica is made from Chile de Arbol-infused tequila, San Pellegrino grapefruit and served with a float of mezcal. This cocktail is smoky and sweet, just like a mezcal cocktail should be. 

Mexican Manhattan aka Urban Cowboy
Xico (3715 SE Division St.; 503-548-6343)
This mezcal cocktail isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s strong and packed full of delicious bitterness. Served up in a martini glass, the Urban Cowboy is made from Vida Joven mezcal, Mexican Ango, Capano Anica vermouth, Imbue Petal & Thorn bitter vermouth, and an Amarena cherry. In addition to the Mexican Manhattan, Xico has a menu of mezcal flights, young mezcales, aged mezcales, and even suitcase mezcal that runs $36 for a flight of three.

Photo: Karen Locke

 


Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Holiday, Spirits
Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
This Winemaker is Releasing A 'Saturday Night Live' Line

This Winemaker is Releasing A 'Saturday Night Live' Line

Live from New York, it's Saturday Night Wine! Your late-night Saturday drinking choices just got more thematic, as winemaker Lot18, in collaboration w...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Nov 30, 2017
Remnants of the World's Oldest Wine Found in Georgia

Remnants of the World's Oldest Wine Found in Georgia

Researchers have found 8000-year-old pottery in Georgia that contains remnants of wine compounds, making it the earliest evidence found thus far of wi...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Nov 28, 2017
Where to Toast to Repeal Day 2017 in Portland

Where to Toast to Repeal Day 2017 in Portland

no holiday so truly celebrates drinking as much as December 5th's Repeal Day, observing the ratification of the 21st Amendment and the repeal of prohi...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Nov 28, 2017
SPONSORED
Do You Realize The Flaming Lips are Teaming Up with Dogfish Head?

Do You Realize The Flaming Lips are Teaming Up with Dogfish Head?

In early 2018, the Flaming Lips will take a break from battling pink robots and crowd-surfing in giant balloon...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Nov 28, 2017
Things No One Asked For: The SIXOVERONE, A Multi-Bottle Opener

Things No One Asked For: The SIXOVERONE, A Multi-Bottle Opener

SIXOVERONE is making a six-bottle opener, just in case you don't have time to open each bottle individually....read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Nov 27, 2017
You Can Now Get Whisky in Pouches

You Can Now Get Whisky in Pouches

Those who long for the days of drinking Capri Suns but also enjoy tasting new Scotch whiskies every month are in for a treat, as there is now a servic...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Nov 27, 2017
Where to Drink on Thanksgiving 2017 in Portland

Where to Drink on Thanksgiving 2017 in Portland

Most dive bars and hotel bars will be opening their doors for Turkey Day, but we've narrowed the list down to just the best places to spend your eveni...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Nov 21, 2017
Play Around at These Portland Bars with Games

Play Around at These Portland Bars with Games

While many Portland bars sport an occasional pool table or dart board, more of an afterthought than a reason to visit, a few spots are a destination b...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Nov 21, 2017
Drake's Dad Makes Fun of Him in New Ad for Virginia Black Whiskey

Drake's Dad Makes Fun of Him in New Ad for Virginia Black Whiskey

Dennis Graham, an R&B singer, very suave gentleman, and Drake's dad, stars in a new ad with his son to promote his new brand of whiskey, Virginia Blac...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Nov 21, 2017
Warm Up at Portland's Coziest Bars with Fireplaces

Warm Up at Portland's Coziest Bars with Fireplaces

When winter descends on Portland and the damp cold intrudes every aspect of our lives, there's really only one response: go to a toasty bar and drink ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Nov 14, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close