I had the good fortune of being at a cocktail party on Saturday night where mezcal was the featured spirit. A mezcal party? You know good things are going to happen and a good time will be had by all. While many mezcal libations were going around, the highlight of the night for me was a reintroduction to the Oaxaca Old Fashioned.
This cocktail has been written about a fair amount, so I am not trying to beat a dead horse. But I am sure that even a few committed mezcal fans have never tried one, and my mission is to continue to educate and inspire everyone in the mezcal spectrum (from expert to novice). So why not write about something fabulous even though some may be familiar?
This drink was originally developed by Phil Ward, when he was at Death and Co., before he opened Mayahuel, one of the best tequila/mezcal bars in the world. My friend, Steve Olson, was at said cocktail party as well. If you do not know of Steve, he is a renowned wine and spirits professional, with a deep (some may say insane, which I respect) passion for mezcal and tequila. While discussing the various cocktails that were being offered, Steve began talking about the magic of the Oaxaca Old Fashioned and how he felt it presented mezcal in a brilliant way. Though it was not “on the menu”, after some coaxing from the host, Steve stepped behind the bar to make a few.
I curse the worm! Well, OK, that may be a bit dramatic, but I am definitely not a fan of the worm. The only good place for a worm is in the mouth of a fish.The worm I am going to talk about today is more correctly referred to as a larvae (a gusano in Spanish), and can be frequently found in the bottom of a bottle of mostly BAD mezcal. There are two types of maguey worms that infest (that’s right, infest) agave plants: white maguey worms and red maguey worms.
The white maguey worms, known as meocuiles, are caterpillars of a butterfly. The butterflies deposit their eggs at the heart of the leaves of the agave. The larvae then eat the flesh of the agave stems and roots, sometimes boring out the agave completely.
The red maguey worms are known as chilocuiles, chinicuiles or tecoles, and are the larvae of a moth. These infest the core and roots of the maguey plant, often in a glutenous mass. Who wouldn’t want to eat a glutenous mass?? Let’s celebrate these majestic creatures by putting them in the fine spirit known as mezcal! (more…)
Whenever people ask me how I like to drink mezcal, I say “often”. But usually they are wondering if I like to drink it on the rocks, neat, chilled, in cocktails, or whatever. My first response is that you should drink it however you like and not worry about whether there is a “right way” to drink mezcal. It is an awesome, fun, festive spirit, so enjoy it in a way that you appreciate.
I know you are well aware of Cuervo Gold, and I am also guessing that you have heard about Wild Shot Mezcal. I will come back to Cuervo, but first let’s discuss Wild Shot. It was launched in early 2011 by country singer Toby Keith, who apparently is very
popular, though I don’t think I run with his crowd. Keith is going for the mass market in terms of branding, marketing, packaging, but strangely, not really pricing at $40 a bottle or so. Maybe his slogan should be, “Don’t buy that 12 pack of wife beaters at Walmart. Buy mezcal!” He also sells this, uh, ahh, mezcal, at his 11 or so Bar and Grill’s that he owns around the country.
This is the type of thing I love so much about mezcal.
This family has been making their mezcal since 1795! The brand is El Cortijo, which I am pretty sure cannot be found in the states. But I hope to find it on my next trip to Oaxaca.
Well son, the 400 Rabbits are a bunch of cute, fuzzy, cuddly little bunny rabbits that are always getting crazy drunk on mezcal and tequila! Now that’s a great bedtime story, isn’t it?
Really. Here is the myth of the 400 rabbits. In Aztec mythology, first there was Mayahuel, the goddess of the agave plant and of fertility (if you are going to be a goddess, those are two great things to rule!). As you can see from the photo, she was quite a looker in her day. Mayahuel got hammered one night and hooked up with Patecatl, who is also a pulque god. (more…)
Now that may sound like a bold claim, but I believe it. I have gone through a massive mezcal cocktail discovery process, and have made many, tried many, and therefore, consumed many. It has been hard, as you might imagine. But through this process, I have not found any that can top these two. Yes, a few try to approach the pantheon, but they too fall back to just being damn good, not completely awesome.
Both of these drinks take a bit of effort, but I assure you it is worth it. You will literally amaze your friends. Some of them actually think I know what I am doing! I just make these drinks and the people follow. They become instant mezcal converts. So here they are: (more…)
So here is a cool thing I came across. In August of 2011, COMERCAM, among a few other sponsoring bodies, officially passed into Mexican Law a certification program to become a Master Mezcalier.
The results of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2012 are out, and I must say they are a bit puzzling to me. I am, of course focusing on the mezcal results, but click the full results if you care to review them. http://www.ultimate-beverage.com/the-results/2012-spirits-results/#category_6
To me, the surprising result is that the top rated mezcal is Del Maguey Vida. Now this is no doubt a fine mezcal but I am guessing that even Ron Cooper at Del Maguey would not see this as Del Maguey’s top rated mezcal. Though I can happily sip it, there are many more that I think are better sipping mezcals, and I view this as great product with which to make mezcal cocktails. Even though I don’t get it, congrats to Vida.
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Calling myself Mezcal PhD is really more of an aspirational title than one based in fact. On the other hand, who is to really say? Can you really get a PhD in spirits, and more specifically Mezcal? And who would award such a degree? Would you really want to have THAT alma mater on your resume? (more…)