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Underserved is a recurring Y&H feature highlighting the best cocktails you’re not ordering.

What: The Word of Mouth with mezcal, Green Chartreuse, orange bitters, lime, and vanilla syrup

Where: Tico, 1926 14th St. NW

Price: $14

What You Should Be Drinking

Tico’s lead bartender, Christine Kim, used to sneak mezcal, the spirit she has a crush on, into classic cocktails like old fashioneds and negronis when the restaurant opened. Today, the smoky agave spirit has its own dedicated drink: the Word of Mouth. It’s a play on the gin-based classic, the Last Word. Kim stirs and shakes El Silencio Espadin Mezcal with Green Chartreuse, orange bitters, lime, and housemade vanilla syrup. The black speckles in the finished product denote that she scraped her way through real vanilla beans. “Instead of the maraschino in the Last Word, we introduced vanilla because it has softer notes and it wouldn’t fight with the Chartreuse or mezcal,” she says.

Why You Should be Drinking It

“People need to stop being scared of mezcal. It’s cool, everyone’s doing it, and they need to get on board,” Kim says. Ordering the Word of Mouth is a good start. “If you don’t like smoke, it’s not smoked like a peated Scotch, but it has nice, subtle dry smoke notes,” she says. Indeed the smoke is subtle and even overpowered by lime. The prominence of the citrus fruit tricks your brain into thinking you’re drinking a margarita, especially because the Green Chartreuse is a ghost in the drink—you can hardly taste it. The Word of Mouth is above all else refreshing. That’s why Kim recommends timing your order so the drink arrives between appetizers and entrees. “You know how people have sorbets as palate-cleansers, this could be one of those cocktails that wipes your palate clean and reboots you.”

Photo by Laura Hayes