Start your mezcal collection with Wahaka
Smoke is increasingly the brush with which bartenders are making broad strokes via a variety of fussy gadgets.
We dig the flavor, but rarely have the time or patience to use the technique.
Thankfully, the easiest way to impart smoke into your cocktail is also among the best: Use mezcal.
This tequila cousin has been growing in popularity in the States, and with good reason. Mezcal can be made from many types of agave, and it's still something of a cottage industry: Most producers are small and focused on quality.
Start your mezcal collection with Wahaka ($33; buy here), an organic label from Oaxaca, Mexico, that's just starting to make inroads domestically.
Wahaka offers five expressions, which use three different agaves. Only one of the species is cultivated; the rest are found in the wild--which makes Wahaka the René Redzepi of the spirits world.
Try the Madre Cuishe for a sip of the soil, with a long-lingering finish. Tobalá's sweet and floral notes share traits with a fine brandy. But for cocktails, stick to the Espadin Joven. Try it in the Afinidad, a stiff, postured drink from Bill Norris of 400 Rabbits in Austin, Texas.
This is all smoke, but no mirrors.