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Take Your Extra Mint and Make a South Side — With Mezcal
The mezcal-for-gin substitution effect strikes again.
The small-leftover-amount-of-an-unusual-ingredient problem is a common issue when making cocktails at home. It’s even more of an issue when, like mint, that ingredient is perishable.
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Fortunately, there are easy, delicious ways to use a bit of leftover mint.
For example, you could make a South Side. I wrote about the South Side around this time last year, but the short version is that it’s just a gin sour with a minty kick.
It’s a great early summer sour, perfect for warm weather and longer days. Made well, it’s tart, sweet, minty-fresh without coming across as sharp, and almost too easy to drink.
But it’s also a template for easy ingredient swaps. And perhaps the easiest, tastiest swap you could make to this minty gin sour is to substitute mezcal for the gin.
And in this case, the mezcal/gin swap works shockingly well, giving the drink a bit of smoke and an almost grassy note. The smoke and heat of mezcal, it turns out, play really pleasantly with the zippy garden spice of mint.
Even better, this drink is a cinch to make, with just a handful of easy-to-procure ingredients.
But even if you don’t bother with that, the drink will still taste good — it’ll just have little bits of mint-leaf particulate floating in the mix.
Mezcal South Side
6-8 mint leaves, plus a bouquet of mint for garnish
¾ ounce rich 2:1 simple syrup*
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces mezcal, preferably Del Maguey Vida
Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
Add ice, then shake until chilled, about 12 seconds.
Using a cocktail strainer and a fine mesh strainer, double strain into a coupe or other cocktail glass.
Garnish with a large bouquet of mint.
*Rich 2:1 simple syrup: Combine two parts sugar with one part water (by weight, so for example, 400 grams sugar and 200 grams water) in a blender. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Bottle and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for at least a month.