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Mezcal Unión’s Smoky Negroni

A smooth-drinking mezcal made from a mix of espadin and tobalá agave adds subtle, delicious notes to this Mezcal Negroni.

Smoky Negroni

Mezcal Union Viejo Smoky Negroni.

Seven years ago, before I’d ever heard of a Mezcal Negroni, I took part in a magical trip to Oaxaca with the brand Mezcàl Union. The young, Mexico City-based founders brought a group made up of restaurateurs, bartenders, and other industry types to a palanque, or distillery, to see the different types of agave grown in the hilly desert terrain, meet the farmers, and have a party. 

Women from a nearby town prepared lunch with freshly made tortillas, guacamole, and grilled meats, and we sipped several expressions of Mezcàl Union, sitting on a hillside patio overlooking a meandering stream. It didn’t suck. 

And then it somehow got even better. About 25 members of the group hiked about a quarter-mile up a hill, within view of passing herders and their goats, to a clearing. There, we drank more Mezcal Uniòn and sat in a circle, and the founders asked each attendee to speak to the group about what they did and why they came. 

For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, we ate, drank, and even learned how the process of making mezcal gets started: by throwing piñas, the trimmed hearts of the agave, into a smoldering pit and covering them with hot rocks. (The juice from the piñas is later distilled, twice.) Then the generators cranked up and a DJ from Mexico City, also a co-founder of the brand, played an eclectic set that energized the makeshift dance floor, kicking it off with The Coasters' classic "Down in Mexico."

Another thing we learned that day is the difference between the types of agave used to distill mezcal. Until that point, I’d only ever tasted espedin; after a sip of the smoother yet still subtly smoky tobalá mezcal, I quickly understood the difference—and craved more tobalá.

Tobalá, sometimes called the king of agaves, is rarer and thus more expensive. Mezcal Uniòn now offers a blend that includes tobalá, Mezcal Union El Viejo, that is more accessible (and can be found for under $50 per bottle). Cooked with oak and cinnamon, this mezcal adds alluring notes to a Mezcal Negroni, as in the recipe below. 

Mezcal Unión Negroni

Mezcal Unión Negroni

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Recipe by Mezcal Unión


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 0.5 oz 0.5 Mezcal Unión El Viejo

  • 0.5 oz 0.5 Campari

  • 0.5 oz 0.5 Sweet Vermouth

  • Orange Twist or Wedge


  • Add all the ingredients to a rocks glass filled with ice and stir until diluted.
  • Garnish with an orange twist or wedge.
  • Enjoy!

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