Mezcal has been rising in popularity in the last few years. It seems mixologists are always coming up with new fancy cocktails using this Mexican alcohol. But if you saw it on the menu and thought, “what is that?” you probably aren’t alone. And if you think Mezcal and Tequila are the same, we’re here to tell you, it’s not. So, let’s break down the facts and find out why you should be drinking it.
What is mezcal?
Mezcal or mescal (/mɛˈskæl/, Spanish: [mesˈkal] (listen)) is a Mexican distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave. Agaves or magueys are found mainly in many parts of Mexico and all the way down to the equator, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca. It can also be made in Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacan and the recently approved Puebla.
What’s the difference between mezcal and tequila?
While mezcal and tequila are both made from agave, tequila can only be made from blue Weber agave. Mezcal, however, can be made from more than 28 different varieties of agave. While it can be made in different areas of Mexico, most mescal comes from Oaxaca.
Espadin, the most common agave used, takes eight years to grow to maturity, though other varietals can take longer. Once it’s mature, the spines are cut away, exposing the hearts — piñas — which are buried in smoky fire pits and covered. The agave cooks from anywhere between three days and two weeks. (Tequila, on the other hand, is cooked for far less time in a more conventional oven.)
What’s all the hype about?
If you haven’t noticed, mezcal is kinda having a moment. It might be because it has a very distinct flavor. The roasting of the plant gives the finished product a smokey, savory finish . Most people find it’s best sipped slowly like a fine whisky or scotch. But, many restaurants these days have made some pretty unique drinks from tequilas.
Best mezcal cocktails for beginners
Ok, so now that you know the facts, are you ready to try it? Here are a few mixed drinks to get you started. Once you’re in love, you can start sipping it straight like the pros. Be sure to pair it with your favorite taco for a truly Mexican experience.
Spicy Sandia: Rayu mescal, jalapeño, lime juice, watermelon puree.
Cantarito: Rayu Mescal, orange and lime juice, grapefruit soda and tajin
Jamaica con Mezcal: Rayu Mescal, triple sec, jamaica syrup, lime juice and a tajin rim
If you tried to make your own specialty mescal drinks, leave us a comment and tell us how they turned out. But, if you don’t feel like putting in the work, head on down to the bar and order one up. You won’t regret it.