When most people taste mezcal, the immediate response is “it’s smoky”, and that would certainly be correct. Some more than others, but smoky nevertheless. But as you get into mezcal, and spend more time with it, you start to find that there is a lot more subtlety and complexity beneath that smoky front. With the help of my friend Ivan Saldana, we are going to get in deeper.
As an aside, there is a saying in the mezcal world that goes…”mezcal is an acquired taste, but a taste worth acquiring.” I believe this is primarily said because of the smokiness. But interestingly, I am finding that this seems to be less and less accurate. I have introduced mezcal to MANY people, and really, it is only about 1 or 2 people out of every 10 that don’t like it on the first sip. So I don’t know if palates are changing and people have become more accustomed to unique spirits, but I increasingly find that most people like mezcal right out of the gate. (more…)
As a regular reader, you may recall I held a mezcal tasting at our apartment in NYC this past spring (and did I mention it rocked, of course?!). As we are now spending several weeks in Vail this summer, I thought it was wise to continue planting mezcal seeds wherever I travel. Once planted, mezcal seeds tend to flourish because mezcal is a discovery process, and usually, once discovered, the converted keep coming back!
So with this in mind, we held a tasting for friends and family this past weekend showcasing some of the finest mezcals that can be found in the U.S. As with my previous tasting, I had scorecards, groupings, and tasting notes from the brands (unless they could not be found).
There was a night a few years ago when I decided to have my own very private mezcal tasting. I had collected a few very nice bottles at that point and wanted to try them side by side to compare, contrast, and enjoy. But by myself? Sure. Why not? Just me and my booze. But my wife was worried about me, my parents called, neighbors knocked, the dog barked (imagine my shock since I don’t have one). They thought I was going over the edge (the edge of glory perhaps!). But it was alright. I had a great time and learned a few things along the way.
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.