Oaxacan Old Fashioned Courtesy: YANCU.CO

Day of the Dead, or Dìa de los Muertos, may conjure up images of marigolds, maximalist altars, sugar skulls (and corresponding YouTube ‘sugar skull makeup’ tutorials), but this holiday isn’t about inspiration for Halloween costumes and Coachella flower crowns…though inspire it does! This sacred cultural celebration’s origins reach back thousands of years to Aztec civilization and it continues to be widely celebrated throughout Mexico and Mexican diaspora communities abroad, as well as Latin America.

Deemed so culturally significant, UNESCO granted it a spot on its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. This holiday, despite its name (and proximity to Halloween), is neither melancholy nor morbid. Rather, it’s a time of joyful celebration when spirits of deceased loved ones are believed to return to their families for a short while. And what better way to welcome back a beloved guest than with a carefully crafted cocktail? So, whether you are celebrating Dìa de los Muertos or just feeling a Dìa del mezcal, these recipes are sure to raise your spirits.

Courtesy of Hearth and Hill

ROSIE CHEEKS

Recipe courtesy of Hearth and Hill (Park City, Utah)

“The Rosie Cheeks is an awesome mezcal-based cocktail that bridges flavors and themes of both summer and winter — perfect for November sipping,” says Mike Fayad, general manager of Hearth and Hill. “Pimm’s delivers richness and depth, while the mezcal adds an unmistakable smokey flavor. Rosemary and lemon add subtle refreshing notes.”

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Wahaka Mezcal

3/4 oz Pimm’s

3/4 oz Lemon Juice 3/4 oz Rosemary Honey (can buy online here)

5-8 Dashes of Grapefruit Bitters

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients together with ice. Shake vigorously for 5-7 seconds. Strain over ice into a rocks glass with a salted rim. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Credit: Bar Sótano

HOJA SANTA PALOMA

Recipe courtesy of Julianna Arquilla, Bar Sótano (Chicago, IL)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Wahaka Espadin mezcal

1 oz fresh grapefruit juice

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz hoja santa syrup*

Directions:

Combine mezcal, fresh lime juice, fresh grapefruit juice and hoja santa syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Top off cocktail with Squirt soda. Garnish with a hoja santa leaf or lime wheel.

*Hoja Santa is an herb that can be found in Latin American markets. If unable to find, substitute with simple syrup or agave nectar.

Courtesy: Alex Barbatsis, Head Bartender at The Whistler

TEARDROP NEGRONI

Recipe courtesy of Alex Barbatsis Head Bartender at The Whistler (Chicago, IL)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Mezcal

1 oz Bitter Bianco (Luxardo, but Campari works as well if you can’t find that)

3/4 oz Blanc Vermouth

Fresh Grapefruit peel

Directions:

Stir together all ingredients with ice in a rocks glass. Express the oils of a grapefruit peel over top (after zesting the peel, hold it between your thumb and forefinger and twist over the cocktail), discard the peel

Courtesy: YANCU.CO

OAXACAN OLD FASHIONED

Recipe courtesy of Laurent C. Lebec, bar manager at Big Star (Chicago, IL)

“This is a riff on the traditional old fashioned, subbing agave spirits for the classic bourbon or rye; the flavor is wildly different, accentuating the agave, honey and tropical fruit flavors that can be found in agave spirits, especially mezcal,” explains Big Star bar manager Laurent Lebec.“The dark sugar syrup is a MUST, to give the drink depth rather than just sweetness. The mole bitters add some cacao, cinnamon and candied caramel notes that complement the spirits, while also working as bitters do … to balance.”

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Los Vecinos House Barrel Mezcal (or your preferred mezcal)

1/2 oz Espolon Tequila Reposado

1/4 oz Demerara syrup (simple syrup, easy to make! directions below) A dash Bitterman’s mole bitters (easy to find, available here)

Fresh grapefruit peel

Directions:

Make Demerara syrup (rich sugar syrup): dissolve two parts Demerara (or turbinado) sugar to one part water over a low flame. Do not boil, or the sugar will crystallize. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing glass, add a dash of mole bitters, Demerara syrup, tequila (Laurent prefers Espolon for its perceptive vanilla notes), and your favorite mezcal. Stir well and strain over fresh ice. Grab a grapefruit peel and express oils over the drink by rubbing your thumb and forefinger across the peel. Place the long peel into the drink, ensuring the aromatics meet every sip

Credit: Bar Sótano

WOOD-GRILLED APPLE MEZCAL

Recipe courtesy of Julianna Arquilla, Bar Sótano (Chicago, IL)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Wood-grilled, apple-infused mezcal

1/2 oz Xila licor de agave

1/4 oz Ancho Reyes

1/4 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir. Garnish with dash of orange oil and dried apple chip.

thoughts?