Plucked from the pages of Mezcal by Emma Janzen, the Apium—or Opium as it is also casually referred to in the book—plays on the savory and salty side of mezcal. It’s a fun and unique variation on the margarita that explores more untraditional flavor profiles natural to mezcal. At first blush it smells a lot like a margarita, with wafts of smoke and agave along with savory notes from celery bitters. It is limey on the front of the tongue and finishes with mezcal, salt, and smoke. Reach for this as a fun and sophisticated alternative to the margarita or as a salty and vegetal adventure that plays equally well under blue skies and warm breeze or a cozy evening at home.
The original recipe calls for celery salt, but we made do with a basic sea salt. This salt is not rimmed around the glass so little preparation is necessary—though you might want to grind coarse salt a bit in your fingers while dropping it in. We tried a couple different mezcal and found Mezcal Vago espadin had notes of brine and saltwater that perfectly complemented this drink, although any espadin mezcal will do. Stay away from more floral mezcal however, as they don’t work well with the celery bitters. Speaking of which: Fee Brothers, Scrappy's, and Bitter Truth all make excellent versions of this iconic savory bitter, with Fee Brother’s costing the least. As with many things, you get what you pay for, but we use the cheap stuff without embarrassment.