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Posts from the ‘Tastings’ Category

Christmex comes to San Francisco

Join us tomorrow for the first ever Christmex at San Francisco’s Mexican Museum 10-4. You’ll be able to take in the museum’s fantastic collection, purchase fantastic imported crafts from Michoacan, and listen to great music all while sipping Mexico’s great spirit of mezcal. In attendance:

  • Wahaka Mezcal
  • Mezcal Tosba
  • Tamales and treats from Tina Tamale
  • Son Jarocho collective from 12-2PM
  • Great holiday gifts imported directly from the finest crafts people in Michoacan by Mexico by Hand
  • And the incredible collection at the Mexican Museum!


I know what you’re doing this Sunday

Tamarindo is having their second annual celebration of agave distillates and antojitos this Sunday, November 16th, 3-7PM. We’ll be there as will many other local mezcal aficionados, makers, and anyone interested in Gloria Dominguez’s fantastic cooking. If you need any coaxing here’s our write up of last year’s event. Make your plans accordingly!

Tamarindo mezcal & tequila tasting


Mezcalerías in Oaxaca flourish in quantity and diversity

Putting the mezcal back in the bottle

We had quite a crowd of aficionados at the first Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle. Photo Michael Skrzypek

We had quite a crowd of aficionados at the first Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle. Photo Michael Skrzypek

No, not really, what was tasted is already gone but we’ve received a bunch of questions about our tasting over the past week so a few quick responses are in order about which mezcals are on the market, where to get items, and our future plans. First up we have to thank Ken Taylor for writing such a great wrap up of the event for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he really captured the scene. We learned quite a bit from his piece because we were all so busy coordinating things so definitely give it a read. We’re already planning next year’s event so if you have feedback or ideas, we’re all ears!

Two limited edition mezcales new from Wahaka the fall of 2014. The Espadín Manzanita and Espadín Botaniko.

Two limited edition mezcales new from Wahaka the fall of 2014. The Espadín Manzanita and Espadín Botaniko.

New Mezcals

We are proud that we were able to present so many new mezcals but working out the kinks in distribution and certification mean that you won’t see most of them in your local liquor store for a bit. We will definitely tell you when any of the following mezcals come to market so stay tuned. Here’s what we know right this second.

  • Wahaka’s Espadín Botaniko and Espadín Manzanita should be available later this fall. 
  • Raicilla Venanosa should be available later this year.
  • Real Minero, Rey Campero, Mezcal Sanzekan, and Mezcaloteca don’t have a release date yet.
  • Mezcal Uasïsï doesn’t have a release date yet.
  • Mezcalero #10 doesn’t have a release date yet.
  • Mezcal Valvodinos doesn’t have a release date yet.


The Mezcalistas sport their latest T-shirts.

The Mezcalistas sport their latest T-shirts.


The cover of John McEvoy's book on mezcal.

The cover of John McEvoy’s book on mezcal.


Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle in pictures

Well, that was quite an event. We had a fantastic time presenting more than 15 mezcal brands featuring an incredible collection of mezcals and seven local restaurants who created unique cocktails specifically for the event. And that doesn’t even cover the events that elude easy categorization like Cocktail Academy’s course on how to use mezcal in cocktails, Don Bugito‘s focus on edible insects, our curated tastings, and panel conversations on the big issues in the mezcal world. Suffice to say it was quite a scene and we are incredibly happy that we were able to bring together so many strands from the mezcal universe in a single place to sample and expand our understanding of mezcal and Mexican culture.

We will definitely be making this an annual event and are already planning other events in the nearer term so stay tuned for future announcements. If you haven’t already, sign up for our email list, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook so that you can get all the latest information about events and news in the mezcal world. Then lean back and take in photos from our event!



What’s up in the world of mezcal?

You already know that we’ll be tasting an incredible variety of mezcals later today at our Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle event and that you’ll be able to taste bites from some of the best Mexican restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. But did you know that we’ll also be hosting a series of talks and tastings to dive as deep as possible into the world of mezcal?

We will be hosting a series of panel discussions on topics of importance and interest including:

  • Culture and History of Mezcal: We’ll delve into the questions of mezcal’s origin and how it is intertwined with Mexican culture. We’ll also take a look at how globalization is changing that culture. Raza Zaidi of Wahaka mezcal and Esteban Morales of Raicilla Venenosa and many restaurant projects in Guadalajara will converse on these and related topics.
  • Is Mezcal Sustainable: Our panelists Arik Torren from Fidencio, Clayton Szczech from Experience Mezcal and Tequila, and Erick Rodriguez of Alma Mezcalera delve into the big questions about environmental, legal, and cultural sustainability in the mezcal industry.
  • Women and Mezcal: Susan Coss of talks to Graciela Parreño of Real Minero about the changing role of women in the industry. Initially consigned to the background they are now emerging as business leaders and even mezcaleros. 

Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle also gives you a unique contrast of tasting opportunities. Mezcal brands will be pouring their bottles throughout the event so that you can taste an incredible variety of mezcals while talking to their creators. We will also offer a series of specialized tastings that will delve into the following areas:

  • Anatomy of Mezcal: Ivan Saldana, the man behind Montelobos Mezcal, leads the tasting group through his nuanced perspective on what you’re tasting in a mezcal and then compares his notes with other mezcal creators and the audience.
  • Specialities from Oaxaca and Beyond: We pour tastes from some high contrast mezcals in order to highlight the variety of small producers in Mexico. Led by Mezcal PhD blogger John McEvoy who recently published a great book on mezcal.
  • Michoacan Rising: We highlight a few of the coming wave of mezcals from Michoacan which highlight different agaves, traditions and flavors. Michoacan was officially certified as a mezcal producing state in 2012, it’s just now that the state’s mezcals are gaining full certification and will be appearing on the American market.

So, don’t delay head on over to Public Works and buy your tickets at the door. You don’t want to miss this line up!

Exclusive mezcals, this Sunday

We promised some exclusive items for our Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle tasting this Sunday, September 14th. Now we can tell you about a few of them.

We’re proud to announce that Raicilla Venenosa will premiere at our event. It’s the first legal raicilla in the United States brought to you by Esteban Morales known for his Guadalajara restaurants and obsession with agave distillates. I’m going to write more at length about this project later because, while Esteban is a crack restaurateur, he will probably be remembered for projects like Venenosa. It’s really that special.

Earlier this summer we were pleased to republish a Mexico Cooks article about Uasïsï Mezcal because we always love the Mexican treasures that Cristina finds. Now we’re happy to announce that we’ll be pouring this totally artisanal mezcal made from 100% wild cupreata in a special tasting highlighting mezcals from Michoacan which is quite an exciting development.

Alberto “Beto” Morales is no slouch. He runs Wahaka’s palenque and an equal parter in the business so he’s quite busy. But that didn’t prevent him from producing something new that will be previewed at Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle this Sunday. Wahaka’s Raza Zaidi will be pouring two limited edition mezcales, the Espadín Manzanita and Espadín Botaniko, which should be released later this year. Take it from us, you don’t want to miss them, here’s a quick snap shot of the new labels.

Two limited edition mezcales new from Wahaka the fall of 2014. The Espadín Manzanita and Espadín Botaniko.

Two limited edition mezcales new from Wahaka the fall of 2014. The Espadín Manzanita and Espadín Botaniko.


Oh, and there will be more so definitely get your tickets today!

Beretta’s Puncher’s Chance!

Learn how to make Beretta’s bartender Dominic Alling makes Puncher’s Chance cocktail in the first of our video collaborations with Tastemade to highlight the restaurants and bartenders attending our Mezcal:Mexico in a Bottle event. It’s this coming Sunday, September 14th when you can sample mezcal along side the universe of food, drinks, culture, and ideas that it inspires.

Some may ask why a non-Mexican restaurant is appearing at a mezcal tasting but this was an obvious invitation because Beretta was one of the first restaurants to create a mezcal cocktail program and really emphasize it.

Watch the video, and then buy your tickets! See you Sunday.

The devil in the bottle

El Amor del Diablo mezcalOne day this July I heard about a mezcal tasting at Nopalito and scrambled to see if I could make it because it’s not every day that a new mezcal just drops from the sky. Unfortunately I couldn’t but I did manage to set up a meeting with Rachel Glueck who was presenting El Amor del Diablo mezcal. We met at the back of Blue Bottle on 18th St. surreptitiously slipping mezcals from Rachel’s bag for a full tasting.

Rachel has a fascinating story, she worked here in San Francisco for a while as a server at Nopa but had long been a global traveler and sometime travel writer. Our conversation made it clear that she is quite the footloose type: Her swing through SF was a stopover on her way home to Todos Santos, Mexico after having crewed on a yacht in the Caribbean.

As we talked it was clear that we had much in common besides an obsession with mezcal, especially good food and a keen appreciation for Mexican culture. Rachel told me that she really likes living outside the tourist zones in Baja because there’s such a nice combination of native Mexican culture and emerging epicurean cultures in the form of local goat herders who make their own goat cheese and organic farms. More than anything we spent time discussing the idea of culture as disruptor, the simple and long held idea that culture is the glue of our social lives while also the veritable sand in the vaseline of homogenous globalization. This idea is close to the mezcalista manifesto and why we named our upcoming monster of a mezcal tasting in San Francisco Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle.

But I digress, back to Rachel’s mezcal project. It started with a 2012 trip to Mexico for a work exchange when she met a man named Noel in her first two weeks in the country. They fell in love and were quickly engaged. As she has recounted in this blog post, Noel is a Mexican who uses mezcal as a ritualistic component of his native dancing. All the strands wound around mezcal which led to the idea of starting their own mezcal label and one day exporting it to the United States.

On a trip in 2013 through Oaxaca, the couple met up with an old friend of Rachel’s who had been working and studying with a family of mezcaleros for years in Chichicapam. The family was looking for a market to sell their mezcal and Noel really hit it off with the family. Since then Noel and Rachel have been collaborating with that family and neighboring mezcaleros to test the market. 

In July, Rachel was swinging through San Francisco to get an answer to that question. I’m happy to report that she and Noel have quite a nice line up of seven mezcals. Here’s what they’re presenting:

  • Espadin 48%
  • Cuixe 48%
  • Pata de Cuixe 48%
  • Madre de Cuixe 50%
  • Tepezate 48%
  • Tobala 48%
  • Papalotl 50%

As you’d expect they have wildly divergent flavors and scents. Here are my initial tasting notes which I look forward to repeating soon.

  • Espadin: Grassy with a round mid-palate feel and a citrus tail.
  • Cuixe: Minty nose, very rich mid-palate which slips into herbal notes notes at the tail.
  • Pata de Cuixe: Very distinct flavor notes of citrus and grass made this one stand out of the tasting.
  • Madre de Cuixe: A very thin and racy bottle, very distinct from any of the Madrecuxe’s that I’ve tasted on the American market.
  • Tepezate: A very fruity nose is echoed by a round mouth feel and warm fruity flavor.
  • Tobala: A very big and nuanced with very little viscosity. This is the one I had the most difficult time describing so I’m really looking forward to tasting it again.

This line up is a continuation of two trends we’ve been seeing lately, a full line of mezcals based on diverse agaves all sourced from a single palenque like Vago or El Jolgorio. Perhaps you could label this moment mezcal 3.0 following Ron Cooper’s introduction of single village mezcal to the United States with Del Maguey, the next wave of brands like Wahaka, Fidencio, and Illegal who pursued wildly divergent approaches, and now this trend.

It’s really interesting that neither Rachel nor Noel are creating these mezcals themselves. Noel just knew and liked this family’s mezcal from Chichicapam and they’ve tried to launch their brand so that the family can see the fruits of their labor and the world of mezcal aficionados can appreciate these fine creations. We continue to hear quite a few stories like these which is testament to the vibrancy of mezcal production in Mexico and the importance of sustaining that culture.

The one big difference in Rachel and Noel’s approach is that they’re trying to crowd fund the brand through Rocket Hub. They are on the keep-what-you-raise plan because they’re working away on the project no matter what happens. Their first step is all the research and due diligence they’ll need to launch the brand so they are jumping into a swing through central Mexico starting September 5th and will finish by spending most of October and early November in Oaxaca. Their campaign is definitely worth a look, but act fast because their deadline is September 4th at 1AM Eastern. And, should you be in Oaxaca this October/November reach out to Rachel and Noel via email or Twitter to see if you can set up a tasting!

Michoacan mezcal makes quite an impression

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Lately the mezcal world has been swooning for Michoacan. First it became street legal in 2012 joining the states that can legally label their agave distillate mezcal. Lots of people already knew that the local mezcal was fantastic, it just wasn’t reaching far beyond the state’s borders. Then stories started circulating about the cupreata, the wooden stills, and many other novel elements used frequently in the state.

And then we finally got a bottle here in the US through the Fundacion Agaves Silvestres Vinos de Mezcal line and it blew our minds. The production method alone causes fits of the imagination, cupreata isn’t seen anywhere else, then it’s hand mashed in a wooden tub appropriately called a canoe, fermented in stone vats; oh and the still is made out of wood and copper.

Maria Elena Perez's contribution to the Wahaka and Fundacion Agaves Silvestres project.

Maria Elena Perez’s contribution to the Wahaka and Fundacion Agaves Silvestres project.

I figured that Michoacan had to be part of my next Mexican itinerary and that we’d find out more then but others have been faster to the punch. Per our repost of Cristina Potter’s Mexico Cooks! blog she made the trip recently and found a fantastic palenque. A few weeks ago an attendee at our Meet the Karwinskis Mezcal Martes event at Lolo strongly suggested that our next tasting should feature solely Michoacan mezcals. Then out of the blue Ron Kunze, one of our long time fans, correspondents, and fellow travelers popped up with news that he’d just returned from Michoacan with a suitcase full of mezcal that we needed to sample RIGHT… THIS … MINUTE!

Not one to look gift mezcal in the mouth I jumped right in for a miniature survey of the world of Michoacan distilling. We started with the Bruxo Pechuga. Strangely it looks like Bruxo is available in England but not in the United States which means that we’re beholden to shoppers like Ron who are willing to bring a bottle back. This one has a very distinct yellow tint but it’s not as unctuous as some pechugas and quite flavorful without being fruity.

Bruxo Pechuga

Note the yellow tint of the mezcal.

Note the yellow tint of the mezcal.

While tasting the Bruxo we perused a mezcal menu Ron brought back from a restaurant in Morelia that he swore by. It gives a a great sense for the variety and complexity of mezcal production there. 1.5 ounce pours, lots of cupreatas but many more agaves, and a clear sense of centrality to the dining experience.

The mezcal menu from a restaurant in Morelia.

The mezcal menu from a restaurant in Morelia.

Next up the most distinctive bottle of the day, La Perla del Tsitzio Cupreata Enterrado 9 meses which has the most beguilingly fruity, even bubble gum like nose, incredibly full mouth feel, and an incredibly fruity palate. It reminded me of a fruity zinfandel. Per the product description it was buried underground in a glass container for nine months which sounds fantastic, they do that to some wines in the Mediterranean and distillates in the Balkans, but I still haven’t been able to find a convincing explanation of how this method alters the bottle’s contents.  The La Perla site has a description of this method which, while mouth watering, still leaves me a asking questions:

En el mes de octubre se lleva  a cabo el desentierro del mezcal reposado en vidrio bajo tierra durante nueve meses, el primer lote de producción que es el de enero se entierra dejando una muestra fuera cabe señalar que es una producción limitada de 350 litros promedio ya que se somete al reposo únicamente el primer lote de producción  a los nueve meses se desentierra y se lleva a cabo una sesión sensorial comparando olores y sabores del mezcal reposado y el blanco del mismo lote enseguida se brinda una comida con platillos mezcaleros preparados por las cocineras tradicionales disfrutando de un buen ambiente.

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La Perla del Tzitzio

After that we jumped into the land of the unlabeled bottle. Lots of mezcal never makes it into branded bottles and Michoacan is no different. Take this fine, apparently hand blown, blue bottle. Ron told me that the mezcalero said the bottle was almost more expensive than the mezcal inside which, once you get past the beauty of the bottle, is a pretty sad testament to the undervaluation of mezcal in Mexico.

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This next example looks medicinal partially because it came out of a pharmacy so I bet they just bottle it in the most readily available plastic bottles, the same ones that we use for rubbing alcohol. The mezcal within was of the rougher and more alcoholic variety. For once, the bottle did not belie its contents.  To the right you can see an example of a much more normative technique of mezcal bottling. We all have concerns about how rapidly the plastic breaks down but for consumption not too far from the creation date and expedience this definitely does the trick.

2014-07-22 18.47.55Unknown Michoacan mezcal

Last of all we sampled this nicely packaged gift set which contained an amazing little universe of silvestres that are generally hard to find if not impossible in the US, especially the Sierra Negra. None of these were revelatory, all were simply good, reminders of the remarkably high level of production across Mexico. I’m also an admirer of the small bottles wrapped in a single package because it’s a great entry point for anyone like the 95% of mezcal drinkers who only take the occasional sip. And it makes a tremendous gift so take note distributors and brands!2014-07-22 18.48.28

Obviously Michoacan has arrived as a mezcal producer and is gearing up to move into the United States in a big way. Just in recent weeks a few  producers told me that they’re ready to go, just waiting on COMERCAM certification or the final details of their export arrangements before they start shopping their products around. We’ve heard rumors that Bruxo will arrive soon so our fingers are crossed. In the interim we are proud to announce that you’ll have a chance to taste some Michoacan mezcal at our September 14th Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle event so definitely buy your tickets today!