August is here and, if you're like me, your go-to summer drinks (rose, vodka-soda, margaritas, summer beers) are starting to feel a little old. Don't get me wrong, when the first warm weekend in June rolls around, I can't wait to sip on something cold, light, and refreshing, but by the dog days of summer, these tried and true favorites have lost their luster and I'm thirsty for something new. In our bar, the answer to the August doldrums is mezcal. Still summery and delicious with lime, mezcal is the smoky older sibling to tequila that will give your cocktails a boost of complexity that pairs so well with this month's sultry evenings and twinkling fireflies. We served one of our favorite mezcal cocktails - the Old Oaxacan - at our Tastes of Mexico supper club event last weekend to introduce our guests to this fascinating spirit. Try the recipe for yourself (below) or make a simple Mezcal and Tonic with Lime to mix up your late-summer weekend nights.
Muddle 2 oz mezcal, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 8 mint leaves, and 5 dashes Angostura Bitters in a cocktail shaker to release the herbaceous oils of the mint. Fill the shaker with ice, shake until cold, and strain into a coupe glass. Top off with Brut Champagne or your favorite dry sparkling wine and garnish with a lime wheel and sprig of fresh mint.