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Cocktail of the Week: Mezcali Me Banana

By Olivia Cuccaro

Photo Credit: @bellamarieadams

Mezcali Me Banana from Melrose Umbrella Co

  • 1.5 oz El Silencio Espadín
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz prickly pear purée
  • 1/4 oz Giffards Banana du Bresil
  • 1/4 oz light agave nectar

To create this cocktail of the week, combine all ingredients and shake. Strain over ice in a double old fashioned glass, rimmed halfway with habanero-serrano salt. Serve with a charred rosemary sprig.

If you haven’t yet jumped on the mezcal train, the fusion of fruity and smoky flavors in this El Silencio cocktail will make it your new summer spirit.

El Silencio is an artisanal, 100 percent agave mezcal handcrafted in San Baltazar Guelavila, Oaxaca (the region being one of the main differences between mezcal and tequila, which is primarily produced in Jalisco). As an organic mezcal, El Silencio selects 10- to 12-year-old agaves to create small batches of smooth premium and super-premium mezcal without additives or industrial processes. By law, tequila can only be made with blue agave, while mezcal opens up to over 30 other agave varieties, like the espadín used here. The spirits also diverge when it comes to the production process: mezcal roasts the agaves in underground pits, rather than steam cooking in industrial ovens. El Silencio Espadín is then double distilled in copper stills by Master Mescalier Pedro Hernandez.

“It is said that you do not find mezcal, mezcal finds you,” said Fausto Zapata, founder of El Silencio, when enlightening me on mezcal. “It is the most soulful and multilayered spirit in the world. It is stories upon stories and endless ranges of flavors. With Silencio, we have created the perfect balance in every sip and every crafted cocktail. So we invite you to drink Silencio and become part of the story. After all, and in reading this, it already found you.”

In Los Angeles, Melrose Umbrella Co is a cozy respite from the hum of the Melrose Avenue shopping district outside its doors and the home of this cocktail of the week. The post-Prohibition era setting invites guests to sip cocktails, like the Mezcali Me Banana, in a candlelit wooden booth accompanied by a photograph of James Melrose himself, the bar’s umbrella-wielding namesake.

“The Mezcali Me Banana is an equal opportunity access point for the casual drinker and the serious tipple-taker,” said Dave Purcell, General Manager, Melrose Umbrella Co. “We built the cocktail around the structure of a margarita: agave spirit, citrus, sweetener/liqueur. Our approach was to combine ingredients that blend very evenly, by accentuating each other so that no note is lost in the variance of the flavors.  The mezcal correlates beautifully with the banana, pulling tropical fruit out of the spirit and highlighting the minerality of its core. Prickly pear and grapefruit lengthen the desert tones and lighten the overall acidity provided by the lime. The agave nectar binds everything together, but not too tightly. Aromatic rosemary provides balance to the fruit forward frame, and the spicy habanero-serrano salt clears the palate for successive sips.  It’s meant to hearken you back to something very classic and universal, while being a completely new and vivid experience each time it’s ordered.”

Melrose Umbrella Co is located at 7465 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. For more information, please visit melroseumbrellaco.com.