Scorched Earth Cocktail Recipe

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Scorched Earth Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Scorched Earth is a cocktail that embodies the spirit of resilience and strength. It's a drink that's not for the faint of heart, with a bold combination of smoky mezcal, bitter Cynar, and the herbal punch of Campari. It's a favorite among those who appreciate a cocktail with a complex flavor profile and a bit of a kick.

  • The name 'Scorched Earth' reflects the intense and robust nature of the drink.
  • It's often enjoyed by those who have a penchant for smoky and bitter flavors.
  • The cocktail has gained a following among enthusiasts of craft cocktails and those who like to experiment with unique flavor combinations.

How Scorched Earth Tastes?

The Scorched Earth cocktail is a symphony of bold flavors. The smokiness of the mezcal, the distinctive bitterness of Cynar, and the herbal qualities of Campari combine to create a drink that's both complex and harmonious. It's strong, with a lingering aftertaste that's pleasantly bitter and aromatic.

Interesting facts about Scorched Earth

  • The use of mezcal in the Scorched Earth cocktail adds a layer of smokiness that is characteristic of the spirit's traditional production methods involving roasted agave hearts.
  • Cynar, an artichoke-based bitter liqueur, brings an earthy depth to the drink, making it stand out from other bitter-forward cocktails.
  • The flaming of the orange peel not only adds a theatrical flair to the presentation but also releases essential oils that enhance the drink's aroma.



The mezcal brings a smoky base to the 'Scorched Earth', creating a canvas of complex, earthy flavors. 1 oz is just enough to assert its presence without overpowering the other ingredients. Without it, you'd miss the cocktail's signature smokiness. Swap with tequila for a milder smoke flavor, or with whiskey for a different type of smoky kick.

Mary Mitkina


Cynar's bitter and herbaceous profile acts as a bridge between the mezcal and Campari. The 1 oz supports the bitterness without letting it dominate. Skipping Cynar would leave you with an unbalanced drink. A substitute like Aperol would bring more sweetness and less bitterness.

Alex Green


The staple 1 oz of Campari delivers a familiar bitter orange hit. It cuts through the smokiness and complexity, offering a refreshing counterpoint. Omitting Campari would result in a less vibrant and more subdued cocktail. If you prefer less bitterness, try substituting with Aperol.

Emma Rose

Orange Bitters

Two dashes of orange bitters add aromatic depth and tie the drink's flavors together. Too many dashes could overpower the subtle nuances, whereas too few would cause the cocktail to lose its edge. No real substitute exists for the zesty punch these bitters provide.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Twist

The flamed orange twist is the grand finale, offering a zesty aroma and a hint of citrus oil to the top of the drink. Without it, you’d be missing a layer of complexity and the cocktail’s 'scorched' essence. A lemon twist could be used for a sharper, more tangy aroma.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Scorched Earth Drink

  1. In a mixing glass, combine 1 oz of mezcal, 1 oz of Cynar, 1 oz of Campari, and 2 dashes of orange bitters.
  2. Add ice to the mixing glass and stir the ingredients until well chilled.
  3. Strain the mixture over a single, large ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass.
  4. Take an orange twist and flame it over the drink to release the essential oils, then use it to garnish the cocktail.

Pro Tips

  • When flaming the orange twist, make sure to warm it first with the lighter to make the oils more volatile.
  • For an extra touch of smokiness, you can rinse the glass with mezcal before pouring in the drink.
  • Always use fresh ice when stirring to ensure the cocktail is properly chilled without being overly diluted.

Perfect Pairings


  • Charcuterie Board: The smokiness of the mezcal, bitterness of Campari, and the herbal notes of Cynar will contrast nicely with cured meats and aged cheeses.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Serve alongside grilled zucchini or eggplants to complement the smoky dimension of the cocktail.

Main Courses

  • Barbecue Pork Ribs: The bold flavors of the 'Scorched Earth' can stand up to the sweet and smoky barbecue sauce.
  • Roasted Duck: The cocktail's bitterness will cut through the richness of duck.


  • Dark Chocolate: Pair with a piece of high-quality dark chocolate for a bittersweet symphony.

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What you could change in Scorched Earth

  • If Cynar is not available, you can substitute it with Zucca for a slightly different rhubarb-flavored profile.
  • For a less smoky flavor, consider using a milder mezcal or even a smoky Scotch as an alternative.

Explore all drinks starting with S here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Orchard

  • Swap Campari with apple brandy for a fruitier note. Add a bar spoon of maple syrup to complement the smokiness of mezcal. This twist adds a sweet orchard profile, perfect for fall evenings.

Herbal Flame

  • Substitute Cynar with Green Chartreuse for extra herbaceousness and a hint of sweetness. It'll set your 'Scorched Earth' on a more herbal fire, ideal for those who prefer a sweeter edge.

Citrus Inferno

  • Use blood orange bitters instead of regular orange bitters for a deeper citrus flavor. Increase mezcal to 1.5 oz and decrease Campari to 0.5 oz for a bolder, more assertive smoke profile. This blazing twist is for citrus lovers who also enjoy the lingering warmth of mezcal.

In case you forgot basics how to make Scorched Earth

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Scorched Earth

How should I choose a mezcal for the Scorched Earth cocktail?

Look for a mezcal with a smoky profile to complement the other bold flavors in the Scorched Earth. Artisanal mezcals that are labeled 'espadin' or 'tobala' can be particularly good choices for their distinctive character.

What can I use if I don't have an orange for the garnish?

In a pinch, a lemon twist can be used, though the flavor profile will change slightly. The citrus element is mainly for the aromatic aspect, so any citrus peel could provide a fragrant touch.

Is the Scorched Earth cocktail suitable for a summer drink menu?

While the Scorched Earth can be enjoyed year-round, its bold flavors are often more suited to cooler weather or as an evening sipping cocktail.

What is the significance of stirring the cocktail instead of shaking it?

Stirring a cocktail generally leads to a smoother mouthfeel and clearer appearance, which is preferred for spirit-forward drinks like the Scorched Earth.

Can non-alcoholic substitutes be used to make a mocktail version?

Yes, non-alcoholic alternatives to mezcal, Cynar, and Campari are available and can be used to create a similar flavor profile without the alcohol content.

What type of ice is best for serving the Scorched Earth cocktail?

A large ice cube is ideal as it melts slower than smaller cubes or crushed ice, preventing the drink from diluting too quickly while keeping it cold.

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