LA CEIBA
(left)
1½ oz.
Los Amantes Reposado
½ oz.
Antica Sweet Vermouth
½ oz.
Cherry Liqueur
(Roi René, by Combier)
½ oz.
Aperol
Cherry bitters

Stir and fire orange zest.


LLANO EN LLAMAS
(middle)
1½ oz.
Los Amantes Joven
(Muddle 5 basil leaves and 2 serrano
pepper slices)
¾ oz.
fresh lime juice
¾ oz.
fresh pineapple juice
½ oz.
St. Germaine
Liqueur
½ oz.
agave syrup

Combine ingredients and shake.

LA GUAPA
(right)
1½ oz.
Los Amantes Joven
¾ oz.
fresh lime juice
¾ oz.
fresh grapefruit juice
½ oz.
pomegranate purée
½ oz.
rose syrup
Combine ingredients and shake.
Note: Make it spicy with a muddled
serrano pepper slice.
The two became fast friends over a
Mezcal-fueled weekend in Oaxaca and set
out on a journey to change the way Ameri-
cans view the underappreciated agave spir-
it. Soon they had partnered with a third-
generation Mezcal producer, and were
scouring countless small Oaxacan villages
in search of quality spirit. In 2004 they
launched Los Amantes (“the lovers”) with a
Joven ($54) and a Reposado ($64), both pit-
smoked in the traditional style, and triple
distilled. But they didn’t stop there.
“We were determined to make
Americans take Mezcal seriously, and
we believed the best way to do it was not
simply by crafting our own brand, but to
open a bar in New York City where people
would come to drink Mezcal and talk about
it,” shares Carballido. After seven years of
permit issues and painstaking construction
(they sent a 20-foot container of Mexican
tiles, clay pots and artwork on a boat
from Vera Cruz), Casa Mezcal opened its
doors in 2010.
The bar showcases dozens of different
Mezcals, in addition to Los Amantes, and
it’s fair to say that much of Carballido’s
mission has been accomplished. “Today
people have a very different view of
Mezcal,” he says. The overall quality from
the region has skyrocketed and scores
of new producers have entered the U.S.
market, adding vibrancy and diversity to
the category which Carballido celebrates.
“Even in Mexico Mezcal is rivaling tequila
as the spirit of choice in the hottest bars in
Mexico City,” he notes.
Los Amantes joined the Palm Bay Spir-
its portfolio in 2010, a partnership which
exposed the brand to a wider national au-
dience. “There is tremendous interest all
over in Mezcal,” reports Carballido, who
notes that it often comes from less obvious
places: Seattle, for instance, has emerged as
one of the best markets for the brand. “A
handful of years ago, Astor Wines in NYC
had two Mezcals and a very large shelf full
of tequila. They now have an entire section
devoted to Mezcal.”
The Single Malt of Agave
Carballido isn’t the only one to make the
comparison: Mezcal is in many ways more
like Single Malt Scotch than tequila—and
Single Malt fans are driving Mezcal’s
growth. Whereas tequila production is
highly regulated as to how and where it
is produced, and required to utilize only
one type of agave (Blue Weber), Mezcal is
produced in seven different Mexican states
from over 30 different types of agave. The
harvested agave piñas are cooked with
mesquite, which infuses the spirit with a
smoky, earthy flavor that beautifully com-
plements the fresh, salty-citrusy agave char-
acter. Carballido observes that the number
of people sipping Mezcal “Scotch-style” has
dramatically increased since he opened
Casa Mezcal.
That smoky character works wonders
in cocktails, too. “When mixologists want
the complexity of smoke in a cocktail,
they have two choices—Scotch or Mezcal,
and the latter has more versatility,”
says Carballido.
This fall, Los Amantes will be
debuting an elegant new look, designed by
Carballido’s business partner, Guillermo
Olguin. Los Amantes Añejo will also hit
the market for the first time. Aged 2½
years in white oak, it is earthy, smooth
and sweet with subtle notes of vanilla and
butterscotch that in no way overshadow the
fresh, ripe agave taste. While Los Amantes
has a lot more company on Mezcal menus
nationwide, Carballido feels anything but
threatened by the competition: “Mezcal
was neglected for so long, I’m just so
happy people are finally showing it the
respect it deserves.”
n
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