The cocktail has a distinct flavor you might cherish, or the smoky highlights will remind you of badly burnt campfire meals. I found the Soup Spoon’s South of the Border concoction to be a titillating mix of compelling nastiness and paradise.
The primary ingredient, mezcal, is the kind of agave beverage that is known for its smoky flavor. Tequila uses only the blue agave. A mezcal blends 30 varieties of the Mexican succulent known for its leaves. The etymology of “mezcal” reveals that it comes from two words that translate into “over-cooked agave.”
But don’t be turned off by that. The twice-distilled Del Maguey Vida Mezcal featured in the South of the Border uses wood-fire copper stills. They bring out fruity aromas and sweet notes — including hints of cinnamon, honey, and vanilla. The combination quiets the harshness of the smoke taste.
A splash of Genepi Des Alpes liqueur also acts as a “flue damper.” Its sweetness and herbal traces, much like chartreuse, help block the campfire flavor.
Adding Aperol, with its high sugar content, gets us even farther from the campsite and closer to paradise. Aperol is like a less alcoholic and less bitter Campari. It also gives the South of the Border its characteristic rosiness, not unlike a southern sunset. Fresh lime juice and a crescent of lemon peel add tartness and the illusion of a setting sun.
The combination of burnt, sweet, sour and aromatic aspects give the drink an intriguing appeal that’s certainly worth a try.
The South of the Border is a creation of the Soup Spoon’s newest bartender, Carrie Longoria. The experienced mixologist fled Manhattan to Michigan when COVID was closing down the city.
When local pandemic restrictions began to loosen recently, she applied at the Soup Spoon. “I hired her on the spot,” manager Keith Buchele said.