Drink Me: L.A. is having a mezcal moment. This is the drink to try

The Jungle Bird Scooter cocktail at Lanea in Santa Monica.
The Jungle Bird Scooter cocktail at Lanea in Santa Monica.
(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles seems to be having a mezcal moment.

Adding fuel to this agave train is Lanea, the new bar in the former Copa d’Oro space around the corner from the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The bar is lined with more than 150 bottles of mezcal and tequila and has a cocktail menu that leans heavy on both.

The drink that feels the most right-now is a riff on the classic tiki cocktail Jungle Bird (typically dark rum, lime, pineapple and Campari). Lanea’s version is called, fittingly for this tech-centric part of town, the Jungle Bird Scooter.

The drink, from beverage director Bethany Ham, is a potent concoction that combines mezcal and Campari with ingredients commonly found in immunity-boosting juices: ginger, lemon, turmeric and cinnamon. It’s smoky, tart and endlessly refreshing, and pairs well with a taco: East L.A. barbacoa specialist Barba Kush sets up shop inside Lanea nightly.

Jungle Bird Scooter

5 minutes. Makes 1 cocktail.


Ginger syrup is commonly found in liquor stores, but if you want, make your own: Combine 1 cup each granulated sugar and water with 1/2 cup finely chopped peeled ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for 30 minutes before straining and storing the syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

¾ ounce mezcal

¾ ounce ginger syrup, store-bought or homemade (see above)

¾ ounce Campari

¾ ounce fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon Turmeric Blend (see recipe below)

1 half orange slice, to garnish

1 slice dried pineapple, to garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine the mezcal, ginger syrup, Campari, lemon juice and turmeric blend. Fill with ice, cover and shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled Georgian cocktail glass or coupe and garnish with an orange slice and dried pineapple slice on the rim.

Turmeric Blend

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon