Drink of the Week: Mezcal Negroni

By Paul Nelson

Blessed as we are to live in the Southwestern US, we’re privileged to have access to citrus relatively easily this time of year. A parishioner graciously gifted me with a basket of oranges from his tree, and I wanted to put them (or at least one of them!) to good use. Plus, we’ve got that bottle of mezcal from last week to work with, right?

I’ve shied away from trying the Negroni because I’m not a gin fan. However the reality is that this combination of flavors is so compelling that people have come up with all sorts of options that remove the gin. If you replace the gin with whiskey you might just have made yourself Boulevardier. The Dutch use a somewhat local style called Jenever (or variations thereof) in the drink. Clearly a lot of people have decided that combining Campari and types of vermouth is a good thing.

Then, I remembered this awesome little video that changed up the Negroni with mezcal. Being only human, who am I to pass up an excuse to practice the little-used but oh-so-impressive art of flaming a citrus peel ? Although someone has modified this drink using tequila instead of gin and calling it a Tegroni, I don’t feel the need to call it a Mezgroni.

Though it’s tempting.

Mezcal Negroni

  • .5 oz mezcal
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • orange peel

Stir or shake the ingredients and pour into a glass (a margarita or martini glass looks very nice), and add the orange peel. Opinions are divided about whether you should serve it over ice or chilled but straight up.

I was very surprised at how much I like this drink. Campari is very bitter and I was worried it would overpower things. But the vermouth balances it nicely and the mezcal is strong enough to not get lost in the shuffle. The result is a fantastic balance of sweet and bitter and smokey that will keep your senses busy throughout the drink. It’s visually very appealing, and if you can flame the citrus peel the enjoyment factor goes through the roof as far as I’m concerned. This is a classy option to have in your repertoire regardless of the kind of base liquor you use.

Different recipes argue about whether the three liquids should be in equal amounts, or whether the base liquor (here mezcal, but otherwise gin) should be prominent by 50% or more. I liked the above ratios, but I’ll try the equal amounts next time. Either way, enjoy!