Episode 116 - Maximo Mezcal
What’s shakin, cocktail fans?
Welcome to episode 116 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!
Thanks for joining us for another fantastic interview episode, where we pull up a seat with some of the best and brightest in the spirits and cocktail world and pick their brains for all to hear.
In this spirited interview with John Ravis of Maximo Mezcal, some of the topics we cover include:
How John made the move from shucking oysters, to tending bar, to consulting in the business world, to ultimately helping found a mezcal brand designed to elevate the American palate.
Why Maximo Mezcal is as much a DC brand as it is Oaxacan
How the mezcaleros and funders behind Maximo mezcal have balanced tradition with innovation, especially when it comes to their production methods.
Why barbecue is a great analogy for anyone trying to understand the various roasting procedures in agave spirits.
A few little hacks to help you understand bottle design and pricing in the tequila and mezcal world
Where we plan to grab drinks with restaurant mogul Danny Meyer,
And much, much more.
Featured Cocktail: The Mezcal Manhattan
This episode’s featured cocktail is the Mezcal Manhattan. To make it, you’ll need:
2 oz of Maximo Mezcal
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (we used Carpano Antica)
Several dashes of our Embitterment Orange Bitters
Combine these ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir for about 20 seconds until well chilled and diluted, strain into a stemmed cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
This last little departure from the traditional Manhattan formulation is a really fitting finish for this south of the border riff. The lemon gives it a brighter flavor profile than the traditional orange peel, and it gives a nod to the move that most people automatically think to do when working with agave spirits - which is to douse them in citrus juice.
Because this bottle is so special, and because the Manhattan is such a classy, restrained cocktail, we think it’s only appropriate that we honor the classic moves, but also make room for new ways of doing things.
John Ravis began his career in the spirits and cocktail space as a bartender in Dewey Beach, Delaware - a popular beach escape for the good people of Washington, DC. He fell in love with bartending and hospitality while working as a consultant for a group that dabbled in the agave world.
After moving to Washington, DC to further his career, John still maintained a bartending job to stay in touch with his passion for flavor and great service. When he and his team had the opportunity to build a Mezcal brand, they jumped at the chance to introduce a new type of mezcal to the market - one that was approachable and geared toward people who might be turned off by the price point or the intense flavor profiles of many popular mezcals.
Thus, Maximo Mezcal was born. The company owns their own growing operation, which shields them from certain supply issues that currently plague many distillers in Oaxaca - driving up prices and possibly even affecting quality. They fuse traditional production methods with carefully calculated innovations. For example, their traditional conical ovens are supplied with an underground heat source that allows for more even caramelization of the agave pinas, which plays a major role in creating an approachable spirit.
Below, you can view some photos of their facility, equipment, and team.
If You Were a Cocktail Ingredient, What Would You Be and Why?
Mint - fresh, fun, vibrant - I don’t think anyone’s sad having a Mojito or a Southside!
Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present
A nice Manhattan with restauranteur Danny Meyer. I read his book, Setting the Table, and it blew my mind how he took such a different approach to hospitality.
Finding Mezcal - Ron Cooper
Mezcal - Emma Janzen
See also: Episode 063 - Our Book Review of Thad Vogler’s By the Smoke & the Smell
Advice for Getting into Mezcal
Ask your local bartender - they’re part artist, part salesperson, part hospitality. Their craft is learning everything there is to know about as many spirits as they can.