The Story Behind The Abandoned Highway

While mezcal may not be the first spirit you think of around the holidays, its distinctive smoky notes are here to prove you wrong. The spirit shines in the Abandoned Highway, created by Simone Mele of Kansas City’s Swordfish Tom’s, where it is accompanied by two types of amaro and an orange, cinnamon, and clove tonic syrup. It all comes together with hot apple cider in a harmonious combination of dark fruit flavors, fall baking spices, and mulled apples all seamlessly connected on a string of smoke.

The Orange Cinnamon Clove Tonic Syrup included is a take on Mele's syrup, as his recipe is top secret. 

This recipe is part of our 2023 Holiday Cocktail Countdown. Click here to see all of the festive recipes as they publish throughout December.


  • 4 ounces apple cider
  • 1 ½ ounces mezcal
  • ½ ounce Amargo-Vallet
  • ½ ounce Amaro Aplomado
  • ¼ ounce Orange Cinnamon Clove Tonic Syrup*


  1. Heat apple cider until steaming; pour into a Hot Toddy mug.
  2. Add remainder of the ingredients to the mug and stir.

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Yield: 1
Updated: 2023-12-04

*Orange Cinnamon Clove Tonic Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 ounces orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cinchona bark powder
  • 1 tablespoon clove powder
  • Citric acid
  • Sugar

*Orange Cinnamon Clove Tonic Syrup Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water, orange juice, cinnamon, cinchona bark, and clove powder and heat over medium-low.
  2. Heat until simmering, reduce heat, and cover for 25 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth.
  4. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully pour the liquid into a storage container, straining away any sediment that has settled at the bottom of the mixture.
  6. For each cup of tonic water, add ¾ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon citric acid.
  7. Seal and store in the refrigerator.
The Abandoned Highway