Quick Bite: Like It Hot?
The Belmont’s Mickey Moran combines peppers and tequila into a refreshing libation you can craft at home
Charleston was an instant hit with Mickey Moran, who first visited on a whim in 2004. “I fell in love with the food and beverage scene,” recalls the long-time San Franciscan. Just five years after he moved to town, there’s little doubt that this former Halls bartender has created an instant hit of his own with The Belmont. From handcrafted cocktails—which incorporate top-shelf liquors, housemade mixers, and freshly pressed juices—to black-and-white films projected onto the back wall, this King Street spot fulfills Moran’s dream of owning “a nice, comfortable place to drink” and then some.
The ever-changing menu boasts some of the most original libations around, and Moran recently made a refreshing addition: The Bells of Jalisco. Named for the Mexican region from which most tequila originates, the drink mixes reposado tequila, jalapeño honey, and lime juice in a mezcal-rinsed glass.
“Mezcal gets a bad rap,” says Moran. “But a good variety has just as much depth as a single malt scotch.” Using both liquors is essential—the reposado tequila, aged in oak barrels for two to 11 months, is smooth and complex, while the mezcal’s smoky quality is complemented by the jalapeño honey’s barely-there spice. A cayenne pepper-pickled green bean makes a perfect finishing touch.
While The Belmont is known for its esoteric concoctions, The Bells of Jalisco is surprisingly easy to make at home. Just know that the honey needs to rest for one to two days before use. It will then keep for three months or more, so you can whip up Bells of Jalisco all summer long.
2 oz. reposado tequila
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. jalapeño honey
1/4 oz. mezcal, such as Sombra
Cayenne pepper-pickled green bean, such as Rick’s Picks, for garnish
(Yields approx. 8 ounces)
4-5 jalapeños, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
8 oz. honey
2 oz. tequila
Add tequila, lime juice, and honey to an ice-filled shaker. Add mezcal to cocktail glass, fill with ice, then add four to five ounces of water. Set aside. Shake tequila mixture, then pour mezcal and ice out of glass. Strain tequila mixture into glass. Garnish with green bean.
Muddle or smash jalapeños, then combine in a medium bowl with honey and tequila. Store covered in refrigerator for two to three days, then pour mixture through a fine strainer into a bottle or jar with lid. Store any leftover honey in refrigerator. —Margaret Allen