Todomezcal.com just popped up on our radar because it has a nice list of mezcals. It’s not anywhere complete, especially for mezcals available in the U.S., but its presents a great variety of mezcals along with biographical notes for each bottling. The bigger point is that we haven’t been able to find a complete list of mezcals so if you have candidates send them along. In an ideal world someone would launch a continually updated list of mezcals along with biographies like those presented on Todomezcal.com or Mezcaloteca. The project is far too vast for us to contemplate right now but we’ll try to fill in the gaps in our own little way.
Posts from the ‘Media’ Category
Finally had a chance to watch the Bebidas de Mexico show that broadcast on Sept. 8th in Mexico. It’s a snazzy piece that does a nice job of explaining the cultural impact of mezcal through interviews with writers, historians, and producers from the artisanal and industrial worlds. It is in Spanish without subtitles but don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish – the images tell the story of mezcal in loving detail.
As a bonus it is narrated by one of my favorite Spanish speaking actors, Daniel Jiménez Cacho. You may recognize his voice because he also narrated the oh so awesome film Y tu mamá también. Give it a watch – I can guarantee you’ll be making a beeline to grab a copita as soon as possible.
A few interesting links to articles that have appeared over the last couple of weeks. Not necessarily mezcal specific, but interesting happenings on the food and culture landscape.
The New York Times weighs in on Oaxaca’s unique relationship with its indigenous past and finds that it’s far more nuanced and sensitive than that in the United States.
The LA Weekly brings word that John Sedlar’s Playa has a roof garden full of Mexican herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
The Smithsonian has an interview with Jeffrey M. Pilcher on the history of the taco which reminds us of this earlier New York Times piece on Gustavo Arellano’s new book on the history of Mexican food in the U.S.
If you’re engaged with the debate over NOM-186 and the politics of agave distillates in Mexico then take a look at the live stream of the Foro Nacional de Destilados de Agave meeting in DF. We’re late on this one but video of the meeting has been archived so you can catch up.
Esquire’s David Wondrich has a quick piece introducing mezcal to the spirits ball in the May issue. It’s a great fast pitch on all the things that make mezcal special but we differ on two key areas. Per Wondrich:
Mezcal, you see, is not easy to mix drinks with, at least if you’re using the artisanal stuff, which is the sort you’ll find in those bars. If tequila is the electric guitar of spirits, artisanal mezcal is Jimi Hendrix’s Strat at Monterey: volume cranked, feeding back like a motherfker, and on fire. We should explain what we mean by “artisanal mezcal,” although if you’ve ever had it, you’ll know.
First, I think mezcal is absurdly easy to mix with, it’s one of the more versatile spirits I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing in a cocktail because it generally has enough body to stand up to bitters, alcohol to mix with fruit and herbacious notes to add something extra to mixed drinks. I’ll post on this more extensively in the future but our cocktail lab finds mezcal working well wherever you’d find tequila and rum but also in most whiskey and scotch concoctions. The new favorite drink in these parts is a Manahattan where Del Maguey’s Vida stands in for Old Overholt. Wondrich does have one excellent idea: If you just want a touch of that agave essence in your drink then wash the glass with it. I’ve been replacing the absinthe in my Sazeracs with mezcal for quite some time, the effect is transformative.
Second, the perpetual discussion about the meaning of artisanal in the world of mezcal but this time there’s not an ounce of politics in the discussion, it’s more about the layers of artisanal products and their strengths. It’s true that you’re in for an alcoholic explosion with the Sombra he includes in the article but not all, even most, truly artisanal mezcals are going to blow your socks off with alcoholic burn. True, the best are going to be 40-47% but many like the Fidencio madrecuixe or pechuga find an ethereal balance between flavor, body and the expression of refined alcohol.
This is just another way of saying, don’t be scared, buy a bottle of Vida and start mixing then splurge on a glass of that Fidencio pechuga when your boss next takes you out for dinner. You won’t spit fire but you will come back with a completely new appreciation for the confluence of conquistador and Zapotec culture.
Last month while on a trip through Mexico investigating Mitt Romney’s past NPR’s John Burnett also made time to report a piece on mezcal’s relative Sotol. He visited Don Cuco Sotol, walked through the distillation process, and took a quick look at the difficulty of introducing it to the U.S. It’s worth a listen.