The best part of writing this column isn't the occasional free drink; it's the people I get to meet. San Diego's craft-cocktail community is populated by some rad folks whose creativity and depth of knowledge never fail to wow me.
On that note, meet Mark Broadfoot.
Broadfoot's official title is "key personnel of captains" at California Modern at George's at the Cove in La Jolla, meaning he wears many hats. You'll occasionally find him behind the bar at George's, and if you spot him at California Modern, he says he's happy to chat cocktails and make recommendations. You'll also find his creations on the menu, like "In the Weeds," made with wood sorrel, Hanger One citron vodka, simple syrup, Green Chartreuse and lemon juice, with each glass first getting an infusion of hickory smoke. It's the cocktail version of sitting around a springtime campfire in the woods.
Some quick background on how I met Broadfoot: A couple of friends occasionally host a cocktail party and ask guests to spend up to $40 on a bottle of booze (each gathering focuses on a specific spirit) and come up with a "signature" cocktail to be served to attendees. Mezcal was the theme of a recent gathering, and it happens to be Broadfoot's specialty. While the rest of us slackers made our one cocktail, Broadfoot prepared three: a mezcal milk punch, a "dirty" horchata and shots of his chorizo-infused mezcal—a little slice of smoky heaven—paired with a tasty blood-orange sangrita.
Broadfoot says it was Trey Foshee, executive chef at George's, who first got him into mezcal.
"It's a rustic product by nature, and that's what attracts me to it," he says.
Mezcal, like tequila, is made from agave that's been slow-roasted, giving it a smoky flavor (for tequila, the agave's baked) that some people find a little off-putting. If you're a mezcal newbie or haven't had a good experience with it in the past, Broadfoot recommends looking for an oak-aged mezcal, which will have a mellower flavor. He buys most of his mezcal in Mexico—it's tough to find a wide selection in the U.S., but that doesn't mean there aren't some great options. He suggests Piedre Almas on the higher end and Banhez and Koch el Mezcal as two more-affordable brands. (For a good selection, try Old Town Liquor or Krisp Market's Downtown location. Bar-wise, Cantina Mayahuel has a great selection.)
And when you find that great mezcal, try it straight up with a sangrita chaser, which "cleanses the palate," Broadfoot says. "Sweet, acidic, salty and a little spicy."
· 2 cups blood-orange juice
· 1/8 cup lime juice
· 1/8 cup Cholula sauce
· 2 tablespoons grenadine
· Pinch of salt
Or, for an easy make-at-home cocktail, use mezcal instead of tequila in a classic Paloma; the grapefruit will cut down on mezcalís intense smoky flavor.
For more mezcal (and cocktail) musings, follow Broadfoot on Instagram: yourmomisafoodie.