When it rains documentaries, it can also pour. We just heard about this very affectionate short about Cuish and its founder Felix Hernandez. Cuish bottles mezcal from a collection of Oaxacan mezcaleros and also has a very nicely appointed tasting room in the city of Oaxaca. Read more
Posts from the ‘Media’ Category
(As you’ll read Emma is Chicago based so it’s only natural that we have a book release party during this weekend’s Mexico in a Bottle Chicago pre-game show. We’ll be at Estereo 3-6PM this Saturday so drop on by to talk to the author yourself and have a cocktail while you’re at it.)
I had the pleasure of meeting Emma Janzen at Tales of the Cocktail this summer but it’s only since then after reading “Mezcal: The History, Craft & Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit” and chatting with her that I’ve had the chance to unpack the themes in her book and the process that she took to get there. Read more
Like a lot of people in the world of mezcal, this is an issue I think about a lot – how to find the delicate balance of promoting an amazing spirit with supply and production limitations. The New York Times piece that hit over the weekend, Here, Try Some Mezcal, but Not Too Much, came just as I was mulling over how to write about the current demand for heirloom corn from Mexico and potential problems that could arise. Read more
Just in time for the holidays we have a great way to burn through another five minutes of your boss’ time – watch this, then jump down below.
We’re proud to have shown this previous to our sustainability panel on Saturday, November 12th, the night before Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle San Francisco this year. The filmmaker behind this effort, Eric Wolfinger, introduced it and chatted with the audience a bit about the project. We’ll be talking to him in more detail soon because this is quite a stunner. Read more
Is it finally time for our “mezcal is having its moment” piece? That’s a conversation Susan and I have had many times in the past year or two. I even started writing it a few times and our latest t-shirt is an allusion to that question. If we were waiting for a sign from above, the last week certainly gave us lots of ammunition because three, count ’em, three big publications ran their mezcal pieces last week. And not just some run of the mill publications but The New Yorker, Afar, and The Los Angeles Times.
If ever there were a book for our time, this is it. Sarah Bowen has really captured a moment and set of issues with Divided Spirits: Tequila, mezcal, and the politics of production. With the new NOM proposal dropping over Thanksgiving along with its béte noir 199 the recent history and investigation into what makes the tequila and mezcal industries tick in Divided Spirits will bring you right up to speed. We’re at this moment in time when big tequila remains incredibly popular, mezcal is a newcomer, and indie tequilas are proving just what artisans can do with blue agave. But the margins and growth are all on mezcal and indie tequila’s side, consumers want distinctive drinks that at least have a story, ideally one that’s true. You see the same trend everywhere, it’s what drove major brewers to purchase major beer indies like Lagunitas and Ballast Point late last year and what drove Patrón to create Roca.
How did we get here? It’s pretty simple: While tequila grew by leaps and bounds as an incredible export through the post war era it really took Patrón and its followers in the 80’s to establish tequila as something with its own unique coolness factor. That led to enormous demand for tequila; to sip it, shoot it, mix it in cocktails. Hell, Robert Towne, who wrote Chinatown among many other classic movies, even titled his 1988 film Tequila Sunrise in the midst of this boom. Soon enough tequila was stocked in every bar worth its salt while tequila bars proliferated and the margarita became the most popular cocktail in the United States, if not the world. That much demand meant enormous production which, in the inexorable capitalist logic to these things, led to the complete industrialization of tequila. The bottles, dollars, land, agaves, and everything involved in this story are staggering. But it all meant one thing, what was once a dynamic and original spirit had become sadly commodified.
Patricia Colunga‘s documentary “Los Mezcales del Occidente de México y la Destilación Prehispánica,” where she tries to establish the pre-hispanic origins of mezcal is now available for rental on Vimeo. You can watch it in English or Spanish, the rental is $10 for a 72-hour period or you can just buy it for $15. Here’s the embed for the English trailer.
Patricia is also finalizing another documentary that may be of interest. This one delves into the basis for the diet for the societies the preceded the Maya, Toltec, and Olmecs and especially how they used agave for food. As their press release says
“This documentary unveils the diet that could have been created 10,600 to 4,400 years before the present, before the invention of pots and comales, and even before the domestication of species fundamental for the traditional agriculture system called milpa, cornerstone of the great Mesoamerican civilizations.”
They dig into which ingredients and recipes may have been used with a goal of recovering this lost culinary culture and confronting the current illnesses of the Western diet. It sounds fascinating so we’ll pass along news of its final release as soon as we have it. As with the “Los Mezcales del Occidente de México” documentary this one titled, “Mesoamerican Diet: Origins,” is directed byPascual Aldana with Patricia and Daniel Zizumbo sharing in the writing.
That sneaky Ulises Torrentera popped an iOS app on mezcal into the App Store last week with nary a notice. Actually he did flag it on Twitter but it feels like this will just spread by word of mouth so take a look and tell him what you think. Maybe it won’t rock your world but it’s exactly the sort of thing that mezcal has been missing.
Ulises is the owner of the In Situ Mezcaleria in Oaxaca as well as the Farolito mezcal brand and author of three books on mezcal. I guess, an app was the rational next step. The real question is why no one else did it before. Susan and I have talked about it but never managed to achieve the momentum and time to do it. Fortune to the bold and all of that. Ulises did it.
The app is really quite simple, an introduction, shots and descriptions of the most common maguey, and a guide to how its made. The photos and layout of the steps to make mezcal make this a great A/V tool for tastings and conversations so I’ll be definitely be using it in that capacity. There’s lots of room for additional information including agave types and details about history. Hopefully Ulises is thinking of this as a first version and will develop it further.
The app is also something of a living advertisement for El Farolito and In Situ in that those are the only items listed under the Mezcales and Mezcaleria menus but, again, that’s what you get to do if you create the app. It’s all in Spanish but the translation shouldn’t be that hard for anyone who has a decent understanding of the language. I’ll be asking Ulises about the possibility of a translation when I’m in Oaxaca later this week so stay tuned.