Ladera Taverna y Cocina may be temporarily closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a tipple or two from its award-winning mixologist, Colton Brock. He won Arizona Cocktail Weekend’s Last Slinger Standing competition in February, but lately he’s been slinging simple mezcal drinks at home. We caught up with Brock and asked him to share a couple of recipes for us to try.
What have you been mixing up at home?
I predominantly drink mezcal and other agave spirits, so at home I like a simple mezcal cocktail with things I have in the kitchen on a regular basis and don’t need to make a special trip anywhere to find. There are many varieties of mezcal, and I prefer a lighter, cultivated agave espadín mezcal for cocktails. Ilegal Mezcal is perfect for its versatility in that it makes a great cocktail, but is also delicious on its own. I always have a bottle on the counter.
What do you think are the best cocktails for people to try making at home?
The best cocktails to make at home are classic recipes. I recommend you find a classic cocktail recipe and follow it to the tee – just as you would when following a culinary recipe – for the first time. This will not only give you an understanding of the fundamentals of why certain things work or don’t work, but also eliminate waste in the form of bad mixtures going down the drain. Once you have an original recipe/method down, then start experimenting from there if you’re feeling adventurous.
Any general tips for novice at-home mixologists?
An easy way to elevate your home drink making game is to improve your ice. When you’re at the grocery store or gas station, buy a bag of ice and store it in sealed freezer bags when you get home. Refrigerator–made ice is usually made with tap water and has picked up flavors from other foods stored in your freezer/refrigerator (garlic-onion flavored ice cubes). If you want to make your own ice, keep in mind that ice molds will pick up those same secondary flavors unless you have a freezer dedicated to ice making and unopened packaged goods.
1 ½ oz. Ilegal Mezcal
½ oz. triple sec or any sweet orange liqueur
½ oz. almond milk
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter
Combine everything in your shaker with ice and shake vigorously to break it all up. Strain over fresh ice in your favorite glass.
This is a bit of a Mai Tai riff – the combination of the peanut butter and almond milk is an easy hack for substituting fresh orgeat syrup. The nutty flavors pair nicely with the pineapple and roasted agave flavors of the mezcal.
2 oz. Ilegal Mezcal
1 oz. “runny honey” (see note below)
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 oz. any flavored or unflavored sparkling water
Combine everything except sparkling water into the shaker and give it a light shake. Strain over ice in a tall glass and top with sparkling water of choice (I like orange LaCroix or lime Topo Chico). Garnish with a squeeze of lemon.
Prepare the “runny honey” in advance by thinning 4 parts honey with 1 part hot water and stir until blended.
This recipe is a play on a classic Bee’s Knees cocktail, perfect for summer weather.