This hibiscus mezcal sour is a Mexican-inspired take on a whiskey sour. It's colorful, gently fruity and smoky and oh so good. Perfect for any occasion!
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You may have seen my post not too long ago for agua de jamaica, hibiscus tea. When I shared it, many commented how much they like it. I hinted then that it's also something that can be used in cocktails, so it seems only right to get on with sharing one!
Given the Mexican associations of hibiscus, I decided to stick with the theme and create a Mexican riff on a classic American cocktail with this mezcal sour. The hibiscus adds such a beautiful color and adds to the freshness along with the lime. I used lime in my cranberry whiskey sour too and I do love the flavor in there.
What is mezcal?
Mezcal is a Mexican spirit made from agave, particularly made in the Oaxaca region. It is often thought of as the more sophisticated cousin of tequila and while it may be less well known outside of Mexico, that is starting to change.
True mezcal fans will tell you that you should drink it neat - in fact in Mexico you'll hear people saying it should be 'kissed'. Mezcal also works really well in cocktails, adding a distinct slightly smoky flavor.
What's the difference between mezcal and tequila?
Both mezcal and tequila are made from agave, but that's about all they have in common. Tequila is made from only one variety (blue agave), while mezcal can be made from a few different kinds. In fact around 30 varieties, although there are a few more common with espadín used the most. Each variety gives a slightly different flavor.
But the main difference is the process of making the spirits. For tequila, the agave is more steamed before mashing to extract the juice that's then distilled.
To make mezcal, the agave plants are roasted, often in underground pits with charcoal and/or wood fires, before being mashed, fermented and distilled. Sometimes herbs or fruits are added during the distillation, adding to the varied flavor profile.
While there are some producers using more modern methods, most mezcal producers are smaller and use the traditional methods used a good 200 years ago. The result is a more complex spirit. It's like the Scotch whisky of whiskeys, and definitely one I'm keen to explore more. This sour is a great introduction.
How to make a hibiscus mezcal sour
- Make the hibiscus syrup by simmering water, sugar and dried hibiscus flowers. Allow to cool (this can be done ahead and used for other things).
- Put mezcal, lime juice and hibiscus syrup in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake well.
- Strain into a glass, either straight up or over ice.
This hibiscus mezcal sour is easy to prepare (especially once you make the hibiscus syrup ahead of time) and has a great balance of flavors. Fresh, with a lightly heady, smoky edge, it's perfect sipping for a warm day (or any, quite honestly).
Looking for more cocktails with citrus? Try these:
- Raspberry caipirinha
- Paloma cocktail
- Pimm's mojito
- Mango margarita
- Plus get more cocktail recipes in the archives.
Hibiscus mezcal sour
- 2 oz mezcal 60ml
- 1 oz lime juice 30ml, fresh
- ½ oz hibiscus simple syrup 15ml (see recipe below)
To make hibiscus simple syrup (can be ahead of time)
- Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers in a small pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for around 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is a deep pink/red color (it may be darker depending on the hibiscus). Remove from heat and allow to cool.
To make hibiscus mezcal sour
- Put the mezcal, lime juice and hibiscus simple syrup in a cocktail shaker along with plenty of ice. Shake for a minute until the drink is well chilled. Strain into a glass either over ice or straight up.
I first created this recipe for a collection of mezcal cocktails for Drizly for which I was compensated.