What is the difference between tequila and mezcal? I get this question all the time, as I imagine most people do who are in and around mezcal. It is a fundamental question on the path to mezcal enlightenment. Of course, today, mezcal can best be understood by simply tasting any of a handful of premium mezcals that have come to the US in recent years. But in the meantime, before we appreciate mezcal, understanding why it is different from tequila is a great place to start.
This post gives you the basics, but if you really want to understand and appreciate what separates mezcal from tequila, you need to read my book Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! (shameless self-promotion perhaps, but hey, the blog is free so this is my form of selling ad space!). The book is available on Amazon. Notice the cool cover shot to the right. Buy a copy – I promise you won’t be disappointed! Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
I believe that for most people tequila leads to mezcal (even though all tequilas are mezcals, but we will come back to that). Tequila leads to mezcal because for most of us, it started with tequila. We traveled down a path that likely started with bad tequila, bad experiences, and bad results the next morning. Then we slowly found our way back to the good 100% agave tequilas that started showing up in the 90’s. And maybe we enjoyed the extra anejos that move tequila toward cognac. And then, what? What else is out there? Ahhh mezcal….I’ve heard about that. The rise of the extra anejos coincided with the arrival of fine mezcals and then they started to appear on the shelves at your local liquor store and on the cocktails menus of your favorite gin joints. So tequila brought us to this point and now mezcal joins the discussion…. (more…)
OK, I am really behind. I hate when my MBA gets in the way of my PhD. So yes, I have been too busy to put up many posts, so I have some catching up to do. I also owe a strongly positive review to Matt Resler and Empellon here in NYC – the mezcal is strong with that one for sure! That post will be coming.
But for now, let’s talk about the Master Mezcalier Class that I attended in May. As you may know from prior posts, I was quite psyched to attend this course and start the process toward formal mezcal accreditation. (more…)
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…)