A little-known fact about Mexico’s tequila and mezcal is that there’s strong evidence that we may have given them the blueprint from our coconut liquor-making tradition to make their own spirits with agave.
The story is a result of the Spanish conquest and a subsequent trade route that it created from Manila to Acapulco in the 16th century. On the galleons that plied that route were several Filipino sailors, slaves, and underpaid navigators, who brought with them goods from our land like coconuts, and along with it, their knowledge, skill, and even a device called a still used to make tuba.
Long story short, some of these Filipinos stayed in parts of Mexico long enough to share their distillation process and innovation and applied that to local crop agave, the raw material for mezcal and tequila.
Joey Osmeña—one-half of natural wines importer Bombvinos together with Paolo Monasterio—recently learned of this connection and wanted to honor our obscure influence. They’ve just partnered with an artisanal mezcal brand based in Oaxaca, Mexico called Madre to distribute its range of products locally.
“If you look at the world of mezcal, it’s pretty much like the world of wine,” Osmeña explained in the latest episode of Comfort Kitchen. “You can have a certain variety of any agave grown in two different places and they [the mezcals made with those] taste completely different because those mezcals represent very distinct cultures, lands, and mescaleros behind them.”
In this recipe, he whips up his version of dirty margarita using mezcal instead of its sibling specific-cultivar agave-derived liquor tequila. He calls it the Manila Bay. The summery cocktail also uses calamansi liqueur instead of triple sec for that distinctly Filipino taste. It’s good to pair with hearty Filipino dishes, like the confusing quadfecta of tomato-based stews.
Monasterio, meanwhile, prefers pairing it with a light snack. In this episode, he makes a basically no-recipe recipe for crisp and fruity shishito peppers slathered in extra virgin olive oil and roasted until blistered, to go with the Manila Bay.
Makes one serving
Juice of 3 whole limes
1 ounce calamansi liqueur
2 ounces mezcal
2 tsp simple syrup or more to taste
2 tsp olive juice
Ice for serving
- In a cocktail shaker with ice, pour all the liquids and give it a vigorous shake.
- Take a lowball glass, add ice, and pour the contents of the shaker.
- Garnish with a slice of lime and serve. Enjoy!