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Saturday, March 25, 2023

For the best mezcal selection in town, head to this tucked-away alley bar

Halfway through reading the cocktail menu at La Donna Mezcaleria, the story begins to change.

It opens, of course, with a house margarita, as well as coin-style and flaka (diluted) option, then mandatory mezcalrita (subs mezcal for tequila) and easy-to-find paloma (matches grapes with mezcal). But the drinks here get a little funky and a little weird, in a good way. Their ingredients are straight but cleverly combined.

Next thing you know, you’ll learn a lot about the sometimes smoky, often super-complex spirit known as mezcal. As a wine, it encompasses spirits made from dozens of agave varieties found around Mexico. And discovering it is like delving into wine for the first time – each agave and growing region has its own distinct terroir.

Danielle Brenner, exclusive to The Denver Post

Beverage director Ganis Kachkov poses for a portrait at La Donna Mezcaleria on Thursday, April 28.

“A lot of people who come to the bar say they really don’t like mezcal,” said Gneiss Kachakov, La Donna’s beverage director. “So I personally think that cocktails are a really good way to introduce people to mezcal, especially if the cocktail is really well balanced, not putting in 20 ingredients to mask the mezcal flavor. You get it. Must be able to taste.”

That’s a tall order for a kachakov, but drinks like the silky 1848 or bitter-forward el gallon are converting tequila, whiskey and gin drinkers. The first is made with Rey Campero Espadin Mezcal — named for the agave plant varietal — plus Montenegro Amaro, lemon and a house pepita orgeat; While the other uses two aperitifs, Cochi Americano and Suze, plus a fruity derumbes San Luis Potosi mezcal.

Cocktails That Aren'T Made Yet...

Danielle Brenner, exclusive to The Denver Post

Cocktails yet to be named Thursday, April 28 at La Donna Mezcaleria. Beverage director Gneiss Kachakov and his staff prepare mezcal flavors and cocktails with agave-based spirits at the bar. A new selection of cocktails will be available on May 10.

In one visit to the bar, Kachakov expects you to try a cocktail or two. Until next time, you can ask to pour mezcal once in a ceramic bowl, or fly to compare agave expressions. After all, drinkers can simply “order a copita with dinner,” Kachakov said.

“That first sip is always going to be very hard on your palate,” she explained. “You want to sip on mezcal for as long as you can, even if it’s only a 1-ounce pour. Because that will change. Once you get used to it, it will open up and your palate will change a lot.”

That would, first of all, give way to a smoky scent or fiery swallow fruit, floral or spice, and creaminess, minerality or earthy notes. The traditional, ancestral process of making mezcal begins with pit-roasting the agave, then mashing by hand, open fermentation with wild yeast, and distillation in pottery.

Kachakov said, “You can get so passionate about where it comes from and where it is made and trying to support the small producers that are making this stuff for us to enjoy. “

Some of her current favorites include Real Minero, which focuses on low environmental impact through hand-made mezcals; Banhez, which is a cooperative business model owned by its producers and producers; And El Zolgorio, whose barrel is a special and precious bottle, he has bought more than once for his home.

When she’s not promoting at the bar, Kachakov says she’ll enjoy her mezcal collection in a very specific way. “I never make cocktails at home,” she explained. “I love my job and I love what I do… but once I’m at home, it’s minimal effort: topo chico or just water, pour a little bit.”

World Nation News Desk
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