Mezcal, muddled cucumber, agave, sliced jalapeño, lime
Smoke BBQ, Charleston, NC
The quick take:
Smoking hot…but icy fresh with a kick
The slow take:
Smoke BBQ is a hall-in-the-wall in Charleston famous for its crispy confit chicken wings and traditional pulled pork. You would not guess that their wallet-friendly happy hour offerings features a delightfully refreshing mezcal cocktail.
Fans of the classic cucumber margarita will enjoy its smoky twin, once deemed one of the “two greatest mezcal cocktails known to mankind” by mezcal blogger MezcalPhd. I remember the first time I had cucumber in a cocktail–a cucumber gin and tonic at a bar in downtown Reykjavik–and finding it a poor garnish when married to the sweetness of the tonic. For margaritas, however, cucumber is perfect–its texture is barely perceptible when muddled, but adds a coolness to the flavor of the drink. In the Smoke BBQ iteration , the jalapeño was not infused but freshly sliced, making the little kick of hotness more than bearable for even the most spice-averse drinker. Between the cucumber and the pepper, the agave disappears self-erasingly after softening the drink, rounding it to a smooth, pleasant finish. The rim was not salted, but the curative effects of some chili pequin go without saying.
Smoke BBQ is a newcomer to Charleston bustling dining scene, and started out from an old SPAM truck renovated by brothers Roland and Michael Feldman, two Low Country locals. The restaurant upholds a culinary tradition Roland learned through stints at Magnolia’s, Rioja in Denver, and the Peninsula Grill in downtown Charleston. All the meat is brined to perfect moisture with salt and sugar, and the red BBQ sauce is homemade with smoked tomatoes. If you visit, do not miss out on the famous chicken wings, which run out fast, or the slow smoked pork sold by the pound.