Smuggler's Delight | Ebanos Crossing

The many faces of mezcal at Downtown's Ebanos Crossing

By now you're likely familiar with mezcal, tequila's roughneck sibling.

Over the past few years, the agave-based spirit has become the darling of countless bartenders, working its smoky-spicy magic into chile-dusted cocktails all over town.

But at Ebanos Crossing, bartenders Phil Ward and Justin Shapiro want to show you mezcal's more versatile side.

The duo previously oversaw the beverage program at New York's Mayahuel, a bar known a bar known for its staggering mezcal and tequila collection. A few months ago they transformed the lobby of the old Kawada Hotel downtown into a suave hangout named after a Mexican border town frequented by liquor smugglers during Prohibition.

Ebanos Crossing's main bar (Photo: Sanjin Lopatic)

Their drink menu includes touches of whiskey, dark rum and tequila, but none is more prominent than mezcal. In the Angel's Flight ($12), the spirit is balanced with the tart punch of Aperol and grapefruit liqueur. In the Jet Scream ($12), crema de mezcal–a liqueur made from roasted agave syrup–mellows alongside Jamaican rum, ginger and a cinnamon stick.

The first sip of the Ebanos Old Fashion ($12) is actually kind of shocking: bacon-washed bourbon and super-earthy Del Maguey Chichicapa evoke the distinct smell of wet soil, sweetened by a bit of agave syrup.

Purists might opt for a pour of Mezcalero, a small-batch Oaxacan mezcal made from wild tobala and tepextate agave that smacks of green olives and citrus.

How does Ward prefer his mezcal? Like any good bartender: Neat.