José Andrés Collaborates on Ibérico Ham-Infused Mezcal
Meat-infused alcohol, believe it or not, is nothing new. Local mixologists have previously come up with a number of carnivorous cocktails, including a venison fat-washed whiskey at Fiola and a foie gras-infused armagnac at Bourbon Steak. But now José Andrés is taking it to a new level. His Think Food Group team has partnered with mezcal producer Del Maguey to create a new mezcal made with prized Spanish ibérico ham.
The idea was sparked when Andrés and his head of research and development, chef Ruben Garcia, visited the Del Maguey distillery and its founder Ron Cooper in Oaxaca more than a year ago. There, they saw the process for making pechuga mezcal, which incorporates mountain fruits, almonds, white rice, and whole chicken breast (pechuga) into the spirit. So why not use ibérico instead of chicken, they figured? A couple months later, Garcia shipped a leg of ibérico ham, which comes from free-range, acorn-fed, black-footed ibérico pigs in Spain, to Del Maguey to begin testing the new mezcal concoction.
The result is a mezcal with a “spicy floral nose of carnation, tropical aromatics of gardenia and jasmine, ripe pear, dark fig, notes of wet green hay, and forest floor,” according to a press release. “The long finish tastes of roasted root vegetables and umami, leaving the mouth with terracotta, a slate-like minerality and a touch of salinity.”
Del Maguey Ibérico, as it's called, will make its debut at Oyamel’s Tequila and Mezcal Festival on March 10. In April, the spirit will become available at certain retailers for $200 a bottle.
Photo by Jessica Sidman