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Posts from the ‘Tastings’ Category

We’re fighters and lovers

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It’s been more than a week since the awesome Lucha de la Cocina and now that we’re finally back on top of the world, or recovered, we’ll share some photos and a quick recap. We had close to 2,000 people which was an amazing turn out. And, it was for the greatest of causes, a fundraiser for La Cocina! Read more

Lucha, mezcal, beer, tacos: What more could you ask for?

Lucha

All right folks, this is your last chance, tickets are going fast so you’d better buy now to get down at a fantastic event this Saturday in San Francisco for a fantastic cause. There’s so much happening at this Saturday’s Lucha at Pier 70 that I have to break down into easy bites:

The Cause

First up, the proceeds from this event go to support La Cocina, a Mission District non-profit which incubates female cooks as they build their businesses into local powerhouses. Find out more about their mission and all their awesome chefs at their web site. Hint: The model for our poster is a chef!

The Schedule

  • 3:30-10PM Saturday, August 13th. We realize that some people really love lucha so you can also buy the “El Ring All-Access Package” to get in early, between 2:30 and 3:30 when you’ll get to have your photo taken with a favorite luchadore.
  • Lucha 5-7PM
  • Cocktails, mezcal, beer, tacos will be served for the duration of the event.

The Location

Pier 70 in San Francisco. Entrance is on 22nd St. past Illinois. Either buy a parking pass to park on site or park in the neighborhood and walk in. Here’s a map:

The Luchadores

  • Enigma vs. “Familia de Tijuana” Bestia 666
  • Vaquero Fantasma y Cazador del Alma vs. Anarkia y Lestat
  • La Migra vs. El Campesino y Mariachi Loco
  • Christina Von Eerie vs. Thunder Rosa
  • Los Chicanos vs. Pantera Jr. y Psymon Cross
  • Grappler III vs. Zucarita

The Mezcal

We don’t call ourselves Mezcalistas for nothing. This lucha will feature a special Mezcal Lounge where you can sample the following mezcals:

The Beer

It wouldn’t be a summer party without beer, these guys will slake that thirst:

The Cocktails

Stunning examples of summer cocktails from some of San Francisco’s best bars:

  • ABV will be serving up “The Paloma Rosada” featuring Espolon tequila and “El Maximo” powered by Del Maguey’s Vida mezcal.
  • Old Bus Tavern will be throwing down a special take on their “OBT” with Espolon Tequila and fiery poblano chiles. They will also be serving the “El Santo,” an Ilegal Mezcal fueled treat.
  • Novela, working with theBon Vivants, will be packing the punches with their Tito Santana, The Man of a Thousand Masks  and Pepper Gomez featuring Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Reyes and Wild Turkey 101.

The Tacos

Last but not least by a stretch we’ll be featuring a taquiza aka a taco party! You can sample and vote on your favorite tacos from some of the slamminest taquerias in the Bay Area. Here’s the full list, keep reading, it’s meant to wow you and I’m sure the tacos will.

  • Aedan Fermented, Chef & Owner Mariko Grady (Japan)
  • Bini’s Kitchen, Chef & OwnerBinita Pradhan (Nepal)
  • D’Maize, Chef & OwnerZenaida Merlin (El Salvador)
  • Delicioso Creperie, Chef & Owner Gabriela Guerrero (Mexico City, D.F)
  • Don Bugito, Chef & Owner Monica Martinez (Mexico City, D.F.)
  • El Buen Comer, Chef & Owner Isabel Pazos (Mexico City, D.F.)
  • El Huarache Loco, Chef & Owner Veronica Salazar (Mexico City, D.F.)
  • El Pipila, Chef & Owner Guadalupe Guerrero (Acambaro, Guanajuato)
  • Estrellita’s Snacks, Chef & Owner Maria del Carmen Flores (El Salvador)
  • Loló, Chef & Owner Jorge Martíneze (Jalisco)
  • Los Cilantros, Chef & Owner Dilsa Lugo (Cuernavaca)
  • Madam Zola’s Fortune, The Midway SF (Jamaican)
  • Mama Lamees, Chef & Owner Lamees Dabhour (Kuwait)
  • Mi Morena, Chef & Owner Guadalupe Moreno (Mexico City, D.F)
  • Rasoi, Chef & Owner Heena Patel (India)
  • Reem’s, Chef & Owner Reem Assil (Phili-raised, Arab-inspired)
  • Sabores del Sur, Chef & Owner Guisell Osorio (Chile)
  • Sal de Vida Gourmet, Chef & Owner Adriana Lahl (Mexico City, D.F.)
  • Sweets Collection, Chef & Owner Rosa Rodriguez (Durango)
  • Tamales Los Mayas, Chef & Owner Alicia Villanueva (Mazatlan, Sinal)
  • Uno Dos Tacos, Chef & Owner Luis Flores (Guadalajara)

Don’t delay, get your tickets today!

State of the industry update

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Ven a Comer is this year’s MexIAM motto.

Last year’s Mexican Consulate tasting was a good snapshot of what a lot of mezcal makers’ ambitions. As I wrote at the time, there was an awful lot of mezcal out there trying to get into the North American market. The production volumes were enormous, and there were a tremendous number of brands vying for attention. The strange thing is that few of those brands have launched in the North American market yet. That’s a sure sign of the logistical complexities of selling spirits in the U.S. and of how difficult it has become to distinguish yourself in the marketplace – even while mezcal is surging in popularity.

This year’s Mexican Consulate tasting presents an entirely different trend alert: The simple message seems to be “The world of Mexican spirits is far greater than agave.” At this tasting I sampled an aguardiente, a rum, pulque, flavored tequila, classic tequilas, rompope, and, yes, mezcal. And that was just at this tasting, recently I’ve tasted still other Mexican spirits that importers are considering. That combined with Susan’s recent tasting of a Mexican corn whiskey,  Scorpion’s release of their Oaxacan corn whiskey and the launch of the new Ancho Verde is all you need to know to certify this as a bona fide trend.

What’s going on? Obviously there’s a real hunger for novelty, some in the industry clearly believe that launching different Mexican spirits will distinguish them in the marketplace either as a package deal along with a mezcal brand (buy my mezcal and you get my Mexican corn whiskey as well!) or open up a brand new market (why drink fattening beer when you can try out this new fangled pulque drink?).

Mezcal imports to the United State are growing at a torrid pace but is this sustainable? It’s been tough to get a true accounting of the agricultural sustainability of the industry. Does anyone really know whether enough agaves were planted eight years ago to produce the volume of mezcal being distilled today? What about the planting today? I know that some brands have great planting programs in place and that they’re expanding as fast as possible but what about everyone else? Even then it doesn’t seem like anyone can keep pace with demand. Plus, mezcal production is incredibly labor intensive and there’s always the lingering fear that it may be struck by cyclical issues of over production or pestilence like the tequila industry. Maybe diversifying into other spirits makes a lot of sense.

The scene at the evening tasting at La Urbana. Note the great black and while Luca Libre movie in the background. That's classy.

The scene at the evening tasting at La Urbana.

There is also a profound pricing conundrum in the mezcal industry. In terms of quality and the amount of effort needed to produce a bottle of mezcal, many mezcals are clearly being undervalued. It’s going to take a while to understand all the variables in the business but at some point it feels like mezcal prices are going to rise which will probably make it more difficult to sustain inexpensive cocktail mezcals. Again, diversifying into similar products may make all the difference to these still nascent companies.

Hints of this are popping up everywhere: The Mexican wine industry is releasing some amazing vintages and importing in increasing volumes. And then, we have yet to even really taste the wonders of the Mexican microbrewing world. So, get ready, the ice berg is coming.

Yes, cash rules everything around me, and the business side of things is a huge force but the power of culture and tradition are also especially strong in Mexico. That’s to say that there’s another motivation behind all these new spirits, simply put Mexicans want to share their cultural wealth. This is a fairly profound impulse among most of the people I know in the mezcal world. They love drinking mezcal and they love the role that it plays in Mexican culture. They’re just as excited by El Tri as the advances in Mexican cuisine and everything else Mexico offers the world. That enthusiasm extends to many of the great products that are finding their way north whether it be the awesome Mexican Fernet or Ancho Reyes. The stories behind these spirits are fascinating, they tell us about all the different Mexicos. We can’t wait to dig into them more.

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Clearly much of the mezcal world shares a political vision.

Here’s a quick run down of what was poured:

Agency Brands is new on the market and represents a huge list of products. Their brand representative Mario told me that their core concept is that they want to bring all Mexican spirits to North America. Their representative was pouring the following:

Don Huiche Pulque

  • They’re awaiting final FDA approval. It’s made in Hidalgo and comes in a variety of flavors.

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Aguardiente

  • Made from sugar cane in Veracruz. This is powerful stuff.

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T1 Tequila

  • Germán Gonzalez’s next act after Chinaco. He has moved from north eastern Tamaulipas to Jalisco’s western heartland for this new brand which features four expressions.
  • “Selecto” 43%ABV “Germán’s selection” an agave forward style of tequila moving towards Fortaleza on the spectrum but still very distinctly a classic, low alcohol tequila with caramel notes.
  • “Ultra Fino” A classic joven/blanco,
  • Execpcional Reposado
  • Estelar Añejo
  • Tears of Llornoa Extra Añejo: An extra añejo tequila made more distinctive by being aged in oak barrels previously used for scotch, sherry, and brandy.

Bosscal Mezcal

  • NOM D248G
  • Made from cenizo aka Agave durangensis in Durango.
  •  Comes in a unique multifaceted bottle featuring the profile of a rabbit.

Hormiga Brava

  • Ron blanco
  • Blanco espadin
  • They also make a Charanda which Agency Brands plans on importing soon.

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Mezcal 8 Víboras

  • Joven espadin from Matatlán
  • Joven abocado con gusano from Matatlán
  • While they weren’t pouring them at this taasting, 8 Víboras also features a reposado, an añejo, and a joven tobalá.

Toritos

  • An “alcohol cream” from Veracruz that tastes heavier than your typical Oaxacan crema. This was a new encounter for me so I’m curious, just how many cream liquors exist in Mexico?

Carmelitas Rompope

  • Another alcohol cream, this time from Morelia and hewing closely to the classic lightly alcoholic egg creme.

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Mezcal Clase Azul 

  • NOM D291G
  • Made from cenizo, Agave durangensis
  • Mezcal Clase Azul made the return trip this year. This is one of the few mezcals from last year’s tasting which is currently on the market in the United States.
  • They are still offering a single, very high end, bottle which stands out as one of the only opaque black bottles on any shelf. The equally distinctive Huichol beadwork on the top of the bottle make it stand out that much more.

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Mezcal Viejo Indecente

  • NOM O253X they produce an espadín, ensamble of madrecuishe and espadín, and a pure madrecuishe.
  • Another of the trio returning from last year and another mezcal with a distinct design sensibility. The bottles have a front and back keyhole motif. And, at least at these tastings, are presented in a sharp carrying case.

Koch, El Mezcal

  • The last of the returning class and also the most wide ranging. Koch has 12, count’em 12, mezcals ranging across the varietal landscape. That means they have a mezcal for virtually every taste.

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In the background Alberto Avramow Pitman was serving up two precise bites that may feature in his upcoming food truck, a shrimp aguachile which featured shrimp heads full of flavor, and a Bocol which might be mistaken for miniature heirloom salads but are actually perfect presentation of prehispanic tomatoes and masa with hispanic spices in bite sized explosions of flavor.

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Putting the mezcal into Mexrrissey

Last night’s Mexrrissey concert at the JCC in San Francisco was quite an affair. Our mezcal tasting beforehand with Raza Zaidi of Wahaka, Lynne Bauer pouring Alipus, and Adrian Vazquez pouring Almamezcalera was quite a hit with the crowd that was a hybrid of the original Morrissey demographic, younger Mexicans, and a few groups that we couldn’t identify.

One thing is for sure, everyone had a blast of time. There was lots of screaming and dancing; you know you’re doing well when even the ushers and security people are bopping along to the music.

Here’s a taste: Read more

Morrissey, mezcal, and Mexico

MexrisseyAt first you may not think the three things have much in common but Mexican cover bands have been remaking Morrissey obsessively with fantastic results for years and Mexrrissey in particular has taken that idea to its logical conclusion; a traveling show of Spanish language covers of Moz’s greatest and most interesting songs. There are even Smiths covers on the line up. Listen up: Read more

What are you fighting for? The ultimate Lucha Libre/Taquiza/Mezcal event!

What happens when you combine Lucha Libre, Tacos and Mezcal? We now have the answer – La Lucha de la Cocina! Mezcalistas is beyond excited to be working with La Cocina, one of the most amazing non profit organizations here in the Bay Area, and Pro Wrestling Revolution. This fundraising event will take place August 13th at Pier 70 in San Francisco. Read more

How fun is Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle?

Don’t take our word for it, take a look at this video of the 2015 Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle in San Francisco. This year we’re expanding so tell all your friends that we’re bringing Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle to NYC 6/5 & 6/6, Chicago 9/18, then back to where it all began in SF 11/13.

Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle comes to NYC!

MEXICO IN A BOTTLE 2016 NY

We are super happy to announce that Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle will premiere in New York City this June 5th and 6th at Casa Mezcal. We’ve always wanted to take our tasting on the road and it’s finally time.  We’ll feature our patented mixture of fantastic mezcals, cocktails, bites, luminaries from the mezcal world, all wrapped in the music, video, and art of contemporary Mexico. You can see our full mezcal and programming line up on the Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle web site. 

Lest you think we’re lazy, we’re also bringing Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle to Chicago on September 18th, back to San Francisco November 13th, and we’re looking at a few other locations for next year. Watch this space for details!

Taste agave spirits blind and you may end up seeing more

By Ferron Salniker

Tomas Estes— international tequila ambassador, Tequila Ocho co-founder, and restaurateur— visited Tacolicious last week armed with five mystery agave spirits and a sales pitch.

Tomas Estes guides the tasting. Photo by Ferron Salniker

Tomas Estes guides the tasting. Photo by Ferron Salniker

“I’m not trying to sell you anything. Wait, actually I am,” he joked. “I’m trying to sell you agave spirits as a whole.” Read more

Why mezcal, why now?

I know, you wake up daily pondering that question and it’s the one that sees you off at night. The good news is that I’m here to help. I’ll be making a presentation to the California Academy of Sciences for their Cinco de mayo celebration this Thursday evening on exactly this topic so get your tickets today and swing on by Thursday evening. Read more