Eating Grasshoppers and Sipping Mezcal at Casa Mezcal, New on the LES
Casa Mezcal will soon be a three-story Oaxacan culture megaplex, with a full-fledged restaurant, a cinema, and a mezcal bar. For now, only that first-floor bar is open, serving a large selection of the smoky agave spirit for sipping or in cocktails. Although there isn't a food menu yet, complimentary snacks emerge from the kitchen throughout the night, including the critters you see above.
Oaxacan bar snacks.
The high-ceilinged room is done up in technicolor turquoise -- colorful streamers dangle from the ceiling, music from Buena Vista Social Club plays over the sound system.
A glass of Ilegal Mezcal Reposado served with oranges dredged in mild chile powder.
A glass of Ilegal Mezcal (it's not really illegal) Reposado ($12) is smoky, sharp, and oaked with rounded sweetness -- delicious on its own and particularly good cut with bites of juicy orange seasoned with chile powder. A cocktail made with yellow bell pepper, basil, and Ilegal Mezcal's Joven (young) spirit is refreshing on a hot day.
As for those grasshoppers, well, they're tasty -- nutty and salty, seasoned with a bit of chile -- though not quite as crisp as we were hoping they'd be. Other bar snacks include uncommonly good tortilla chips with spicy guacamole, and a chorizo-and-cheese dip.
86 Orchard Street