Over my years of visiting Oaxaca, Asis Cortes and I have never managed to be here at the same time. This trip is no different, but luckily, I was finally able to get out and visit a few of the palenques they work with. Special thanks to Puro Burro and Zack Safron who used to be a San Francisco based bartender. He has since made the leap to Oaxaca which is quite a trend with bartenders. Zach occupies a fascinating spot in the mezcal world: He works closely with Puro Burro which leads trips to Oaxaca geared toward the hospitality industry, and is a bartender at Mezcalogia, Asis’ Oaxaca mezcaleria. Zach acts as a kind of connector for the Casa de Cortes “empire” with Mezcalogia and the world outside of Oaxaca. His love and enthusiasm for mezcal, and Oaxaca, cannot be overstated. Read more
Posts from the ‘Oaxaca’ Category
A few years ago I was introduced to Francisco Perez who was traveling through the US promoting an Ejutla, Oaxaca based mezcal cooperative, Integradora Comercial de Ejutla SA de CV ICESA, and its mezcal brand, Forever Oaxaca. Our continued correspondence kept me abreast of the expanding cooperative, their changing branding (now Siempre Oaxaca with a focus on small production mezcals), and the addition of new lines including Banhez and El Ejuteco. Max and I were lucky enough to celebrate Christmas in San Miguel Ejutla last year, which we tried to capture here. Read more
We arrived just as the morning sky was breaking open and the rain had stopped. There had been a torrential storm when we landed in Mexico City the night before, and despite having put in a four hour buffer to get through customs, get to the bus station, and grab something to eat before catching our midnight bus to Oaxaca, we barely made it. Rain has inundated Mexico City and created traffic havoc on an already traffic laden city. Read more
After years of wanting to go, I finally made the trek to Juchitan de Zaragoza and hid it in the old – we’ll take the non-mountainous way to Puerto Escondido which just happens to go by Juchitan – trick to get the family on board with this semi out of the way excursion. En route on the Pan American Highway, we got waylaid by a bloqueo (road block) and waited it out at a Pemex station for three hours. This meant driving in the dark and trying to navigate the streets of Juchitan, in the dark with google maps as our guide, until we finally arrived at the beautiful home where we stayed for two nights. Read more
Isaiah, my 12 year old growing boy, requires a constant supply of sustenance. For a budding teenager, he has a pretty developed sense of taste, aside from a couple of major failings, number one being he does not like Oaxacan chocolate followed closely by his disdain of that oh so Oaxacan dish, mole negro. He will however chow down on a bag of chapulines and even has his favorite vendors at the 20 de Noviembre market. Read more
I know, I know, it’s almost February and we’re just writing about Christmas? I get it, it’s been a busy month what with the Fancy Food Show and setting up all the tastings over the coming months. But before February actually arrives here’s a quick recap of Christmas in Oaxaca. Read more
It was a fabulous three weeks in Oaxaca that now feels simultaneously like I was there for forever and that it was all a dream. I’ll just sum it up in five words– so much damn good mezcal.
Max did a great little write up about how the mezcaleria scene is changing, with differentiation coming in style and design and of course breadth of offerings. To my great dismay, I was not able to get to Cuish to see live and in person their newly revamped space. By all accounts, it is beautiful and is at the top of my list when I return. I have such high regard for what Felix Hernandez Monterrosa and Hilda Martinez Popoca have done for mezcal in Oaxaca. When they opened their doors in 2011, Read more
It’s a new calendar year and things are changing for mezcal. As we all hold our breath this Friday we do know a few things, and all of them have some impact on the mezcal world.
It’s never been so cheap to create a mezcal brand
There are more mezcal brands on the market in the United States than ever before. With the growing interest in the cocktail space and even the retail world, the business case is there and brands are being built to fill niches in the market. We routinely talk to distillers, brand creators, and others who are interested in creating or bringing a mezcal brand into the United States.
In Mexico there are even more brands, so many that it’s been difficult to even imagine what’s going on in the mezcalosphere. That points to one fascinating contradiction in our moment: The production is there, the business interest is there, arguably the consumer interest is also there. But there are some big questions. Read more
You know that with mezcal’s surging popularity Oaxaca is seeing lots of tourists who want to taste and learn about mezcal so you’d expect the town to boast some of the world’s best mezcalerias. That’s true in resplendent variety. There’s Mezcaloteca’s very structured tasting environment. In Situ’s rough and ready bar. Txalaparta’s mezcaleria within a hookah bar. Amantes’ old time store front replete with resident guitarist. And then there are all the restaurants that feature great mezcal selections. We could go on, just check our Where to Drink Mezcal in Oaxaca for a great guide. Here’s our latest updated map. Read more
We are tremendously sad to hear the news that Don Lorenzo Angeles, the patriarch of the Angeles family which is responsible for Real Minero Mezcal, has died of lung cancer. Anyone who met him can vouch that he was a fantastic human being and a link to a different era of Mexico and mezcal. He raised an incredible family which now operates Real Minero, the quality of their mezcal and the ethics they bring to the operation speak clearly to his own high standards. But more than anything their humanity speaks volumes about who he was. Always welcoming to visitors, working in the fields with his workers until very recently, in Yiddish terms he was a true mensch.
As word has filtered out through the mezcal community here in the U.S., folks have taken to Facebook to express their sadness. Pretty much anyone in the bar industry who has traveled to Oaxaca crossed paths with Don Lorenzo over the years, if not in Santa Catarina Minas, then certainly at the El Pochote Mercado where he could be found sampling and selling his bottles, always, always with a huge smile on his face that you wanted to crawl into.
Our world is smaller without him.
We send our condolences and best wishes to his family.