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…)
As you probably know, mezcal has a cult-like following. Perhaps these sayings have emerged as a result of that, or maybe people are trying to further the education of mezcal, or maybe they are trying to capture the cultural and spiritual heritage of this spirit. Or maybe they were just bombed when they came up with them! Whatever it is, I don’t know of any other spirit that actually has a growing body of descriptive phrases surrounding it. Or maybe I have not been paying attention! That said, here are a few of my favorites:
- Mezcal is an acquired taste, but a taste worth acquiring.
- If you drink too much mezcal, they don’t say you are drunk; they say you are “closer to god”.
- For everything bad, mezcal. For everything good, mezcal.
- Based on the long growth period (8-12 years) for an agave plant to reach the age of harvest, they say that mezcal represents “drops of time”.
- You don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you!
- Tequila is to wake the living. Mezcal is to wake the dead.
In Mexico, mezcal is uniquely tied to the history and the culture. It is spiritual, romantic, mystical, traditional, and revered. It is served at births, weddings, funerals and everything in between.
In the U.S., mezcal is largely misunderstood, though we are trying to change that. In my youth (the bar-hopping good times of the late ’80’s) there was a bar in NYC called Lucy’s on the Upper West Side. It was a packed, raucous, meat-market (so I was told) that was always a scene. If you wanted a Lucy’s T-shirt though, you had to down a small bottle of mezcal that had a worm in it (I will get to the worm later). And this mezcal was DISGUSTING – the retching, burning, gag-inducing crap that you would only do when already well on your way, and your buddies were egging you on.
Unfortunately, most people, if they have any impression of mezcal at all, think of that nasty stuff with the worm. While you can still find this junk, today’s mezcals are nothing like that, and that’s what this blog is all about. As Eric Asimov, Food & Wine writer for the NY Times, said in 2010:
“Mezcal is one of the world’s great spirits: complex, gorgeous and endlessly intriguing, distinguished like great wines by a strong sense of place.”
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Let’s review the basics of Mezcal (just the facts ma’am): (more…)