Sombra Mezcal Announces Winner of First-Ever Sustainable Cocktail Competition

Sombra Mezcal, a spirit distilled to sustain the land and the people of Oaxaca, today announces the winner of its first-ever sustainable cocktail competition, “Shake and Stir to Sustain the Land and the People.” Marshall Davis (Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria, Raleigh, N.C.) has won the Grand Prize of a week-long, all-expenses paid environmental apprenticeship at Sombra Mezcal’s palenque (distillery) in Oaxaca, Mexico. The bartender cocktail competition, which had more than 100 recipe submissions, was judged by anti-waste pioneers Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths of Trash Tiki.

marshall davis sombra mezcal

“Marshall’s drink, the Hyena Fang, was really the most creative that we saw in the competition,” say Ramage and Griffiths. “The way he used the peanut shells to salt-infuse the Zucca was such a rad idea and one that we had never seen before. His use of amontillado sherry to pick up on the nuttiness and grapefruit oleo to balance the whole thing out was so unlike anything else we saw in the competition and ended up really delicious!”

Winning Cocktail:
“Hyena Fang” by Marshall Davis (Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria, Raleigh, N.C.)
1.5 oz peanut-infused Sombra Mezcal*
0.75 oz salted Zucca Rabarbaro Amaro**
0.5 oz amontillado sherry
0.5 oz grapefruit scrap oleo-saccharum***
3 drops Peychaud’s Bitters
Build drink in rocks glass.
Add bitters and oleo-saccharum first, then lower a large ice cube into the glass. Add sherry, salted Zucca and peanut-infused Sombra Mezcal.
Stir until diluted and chilled. Taste for balance. Garnish with a trimmed, expressed grapefruit peel.

*Peanut-Infused Sombra Mezcal
Shell 1 cup salted, shell-on peanuts.
Reserve shells for salted Zucca.
Combine shelled nuts and 0.75 liter Sombra Mezcal in a glass infusion jar and let sit for 48 hours. Strain through a nut milk bag.

**Salted Zucca Rabarbaro Amaro
Add 1 cup of peanut shells to an ISI charger and whip twice with 16 oz of Zucca for 30 seconds first, 5 minutes second. Strain through a nut milk bag.

***Grapefruit Scrap Oleo-Saccharum
Peel 12 grapefruits, the smaller the shards, the better, leaving as much pith behind as possible.
Place the peels in a stainless steel bowl and cover with sugar, about 1.5 cups. Gently knead the sugar into the peels by hand or with a muddler.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 24 to 48 hours. If residual sugar remains, add a few drops of hot water until it is all dissolved.
Strain off the solids and refrigerate.

“Peanuts are a big crop here in North Carolina, so I like to use them in cocktails as much as possible,” says Davis. “In the Hyena Fang, we’re using every part of the peanut to enhance the natural earthiness and nuttiness of Sombra Mezcal. The salt component also helps complement Sombra’s pepper and citrus notes, while balancing out the bitterness in the amaro. The other sustainable ingredient is our grapefruit oleo-saccharum, which utilizes the peels from the juicing we do on a daily basis for our Paloma.”

“We salute all of the bartenders who submitted so many great and creative recipes. They should all feel very proud,” says John Sean Fagan, Distiller and Director General, Sombra Mezcal. “We congratulate Marshall Davis on his win. We look forward to welcoming him at Sombra Mezcal’s palenque for a hands-on immersion into sustainable mezcal production, including helping with reforestation efforts and making adobe bricks from distillation by-products for much-needed local housing projects.”

Creative and Sustainable Cocktails from Across the U.S. and Canada
The competition inspired sustainable cocktails from all over the U.S., as well as Canada. Each recipe required the use of two demonstrably sustainable cocktail ingredients. Some bartenders took inspiration from the work of Trash Tiki and many recipes incorporated tepaches, oleo-saccharums, vegetable tops and tails, fruit pits, nutshells, herb stems, citrus trim cordials, and even onion skin ash.

Ramage and Griffiths recreated and tasted more than 100 recipes, narrowed down the 12 finalists, and ultimately, picked the winner. The process was conducted virtually to minimize the competition’s carbon footprint. The punk rock-styled duo began to focus on sustainable cocktails while at London’s Dandelyan, which was named “World’s Best Bar” by World’s 50 Best Bars in October.

Among the top finalists, there was a trend of bartenders making great creative use of ingredients not normally used that were specific to the bars and localities in which they work. This included creating a syrup out of excess sushi rice, using pine that grows close to their bar and even harvesting sea salt.

Given that the competition was virtual and the submissions were made online, there were recipes from all across the U.S. and Canada, from New York to Denver, Washington, D.C. to Miami and even Vancouver, B.C. Since there was no requirement of having a local host in each market, the competition attracted recipe submissions from bartenders living in places that might not be on the usual circuit.

Setting the Highest Standards of Sustainability in Oaxaca
Sombra Mezcal sets the highest standards for eco-friendly production at its palenque to ensure consistent quality and innovation from the fields to the bottle. Its groundbreaking green initiatives include using certified sustainable wood, rainwater, solar power, and upcycling distillation by-products into adobe bricks donated for local housing in earthquake-affected areas of Oaxaca.