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Going out on a high note – Mexico in a Bottle SF

Photo by Michael Skrzypek.

We can hardly believe it ourselves, the final Mexico in a Bottle for the year happened and we are staring Thanksgiving in the face– where did the year go?

What a way for us to finish the year though, Mexico in a Bottle SF did not disappoint. 34 brands poured more than 150 different mezcals, sotols, raicillas, and bacanoras. There was even a Mexican rum and Mexican craft beer – it was a truly spectacular collection of bebidas de Mexico.

Mike Whipple form La Neta Mezcal shares a laugh at Mexico in a Bottle SF 2017. Photo by Michael Skrzypek.

What’s new at Mexico in a Bottle?

We’ve been doing this for four years now so we’re alway introducing new ideas. This year we brought on Topo Chico as our official water sponsor, and they really did make sure that the water flowed. We also had a rotating brand table to showcase mezcals not yet in the market and it was a huge hit. Look out for brands like Mezcal Nacional, Chaneque, Tres Tiempos, and Mestizo soon.

Mezcal Nacional at our rotating tasting table at Mexico in a Bottle SF 2017. Photo by Michael Skrzypek.

But what about everyone else? There are just so many mezcals to mention ranging from those just about to enter the market like La Neta to those like Del Maguey who have defined the mezcal space for more than 20 years. In between you could find a complete spread, the godfathers like Del Maguey and the brand spanking new Clande Sotol which is on just on sale now. Want to see the full mezcal list? Check it out. We partnered with Caskers to make as many of those mezcals availabale as possible and we got you a discount. Use the code MEZCALISTAS to get $10 off your order now through the holidays at caskers.com/mezcal.

A small sample of the items on sale at our tiendita. Photo by Michael Skryzpek.

Our tiendita featured beautiful crafts and art from Michoacan, Puebla, Oaxaca, and San Francisco. We launched our first calendar devoted to the mezcaleros that make all this wonderful mezcal possible while maintaining such a vibrant culture. We are donating 100% of the proceeds from the calendar to Mexican earthquake relief so get yours today!

We also launched a new t-shirt design, our Fuerza Mexico! design is ready for you and 100% of the proceeds also go to Mexican earthquake relief. Order now to be ready for that holidays and new year.

The rest of our shirts are also available with $5 from each sale going to earthquake relief so let the good looks and good feelings abound this holiday season.

We already raised $2,000 for earthquake relief efforts in Mexico at Mexico in a Bottle San Francisco from our t-shirts, calendars, and the generous contributions from Ilegal Mezcal and Dos Volcanes. But why stop there? Hit our store, get some Christmas gifts, and help support our fundraising efforts!

A sampling of the mezcal stories that attendees left behind. Photo by Michael Skrzypek.

We were also happy to introduce a story telling component where attendees could write about how mezcal found them, or record their stories with Jaime Qui of Agave Tip – we can’t wait to feature them on the website! All in all, a great expansion in directions that make sense. We look forward to rolling these concepts out to other locations in 2018.

New trends in the mezcal world

The new Fabriquero sotol. Photo by Michael Skrzypek.

While we’ve seen tons of changes to the mezcal world perhaps the most fascinating trend is how mezcal is opening the door to other kinds of agave distillates like raicilla and sotol. But now that the door is open other Mexican craft spirits like rums and the whiskeys are rushing in. This year we’ve welcomed Paranubes to the US market but that’s just the start. There are already a pair of Comitecos available in the US and other rums are on the way.

This trend is exciting and we look forward to incorporating even more of those spirits in future tastings which, thankfully only further reinforces the name of the event – Mexico in a Bottle. The presentations we had this event also reflected the growth of the category from an exploration of Raicilla from Christian Arizmendi to the implications of the new NOM-70 from Rachel Dorcy. Here’s a quick look at some of Christian’s presentation on our burgeoning YouTube channel:

Taste mezcal but what about the food?

And the food, the delicious food! We had truly spectacular dishes from the participating restaurants from all around the Bay Area:

4505 brought a whole pig stuffed with pineapple and other ingredients for their tacos at Mexico in a Bottle SF 2017. Photo by Michael Skrzypek.

  • Calavera served a shrimp and chorizo sope paired with a Bacanora forward cocktail.
  • LV Mar offered three treats including a shrimp ceviche, a pork belly taco, and a vegetable salad paired with two perfect fall cocktail sips with Mezcal Tosba.
  • ABV/Lagrimas treated guests to a mushroom huarache and a Vida Mezcal fueled cocktail sip.
  • 4505 Burgers and BBQ had perhaps the most dramatic presentation of a whole roasted pig for their Al Pastor tacos.
  • Tamarindo once again delivered with its agua chile and barbacoa taco, paired with a Don Amado Mezcal cocktail that infused rose hips and tamarindo.
  • Mosto brought the famous Bar Movil: A completely mobile bar where they were serving up a sublime Mezcal Vago cocktail. They paired that with the house huitlacoche sopes.
  • Uno Dos Tacos presented traditional carnitas tacos with an El Techo cocktail sip featuring Nuestra Soledad Mezcal.
  • Don Bugito demonstrated the versatility of edible bugs with its gusano and guacamole tostada.
  • Mixiote, an incubator business out of La Cocina, served up its chicken tinga-esque tostada alongside Hard Frescos and their line up of “hard” agua frescos.

So, where do we go from here? We’ve got big plans for 2018 and will be expanding to some new cities, so heads up San Diego, Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, and of course, San Francisco, we’re coming at you…

In the meantime, check out the photos from San Francisco. Special thanks to our amazing photographer Michael Skrzypek for taking these!

 

 

Mexico in a Bottle DC – kicking off 2017

The Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C.

In the spirit of transparency, here’s some background on how the whole idea of how Mexico in a Bottle – Washington,  D.C. came about:  DC is my hometown, but now, my immediate family lives with me on the West Coast. I miss DC, I miss my friends, and I really needed to come up with a reason to visit. Then there was a random meeting and conversation I had with Pati Jinich, the terrific Mexican chef, culinary anthropologist, and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in DC. She told me that the Mexican culinary scene in Washington was growing. A seed was planted and I told Max that DC needed to be on our shortlist of event cities for 2017. Read more

Pop Up in our Pulqueria

Pop Up Pulqueria Tamarindo

Our first Pop Up Pulqueria was so popular that we’re bringing it back but shifting zip codes to Tamarindo in Downtown Oakland. The idea is the same, we’ll have lots of fantastic, made in California pulque on hand and you can meet the master, that is, pulque maestro Salvador Gonzalez will be on hand to guide you through pulque’s rich history and delicious flavors.

To up the ante (and agave!), we’re also bringing in Don Amado‘s Jacob Lustig to show you what mezcal is all about. The kick ass bartenders at Tamarindo will create a a special cocktail, plus a special Pozole from the delicious kitchen, all for $35! All other drinks (additional cocktails, beer) are not included in the price but are available for purchase. Just remember, we sold out of our first Pop Up Pulqueria the week before it happened so don’t delay, get your tickets today!

It’s 4-7PM Sunday, May 15th. Tamarindo Antojeria 468 8th St, Oakland, California 94607. Get your tickets today!

Los Borrachos – throwing a mezcal tasting when #lovewins

It takes some cojones to throw a mezcal tasting in San Francisco during the annual SF Pride celebration. Add to that the historic Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage, a Giants home game, and the farewell Grateful Dead concert, and you are looking at truly committed mezcal lovers who made their way through mayhem to taste some really new and exciting mezcals, paired with great eats.

Erick Rodriguez and Adrian Vazquez, Los Borrachos, put together this tasting event at Bartlett Hall to showcase traditional mezcals. In addition to brands already in the market like Wahaka, Tosba, Del Maguey, Don Amado, Alipus,  and Mezcalero there were some new bottles from the Heavy Metl fold – Rey Campero, Mezcaloteca, and Real Minero – which will soon be imported to the United States as well as fresh bottles from Erick’s Almamezcalera label. Totally new to the market and making their debut were Mezcal Los Gentiles and Chaneque.

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How you pace yourself at events like these is the big question. I go for tiny tastes. I also try to focus on mezcals I’ve never had first and see how it goes from there.

Erick Rodriguez of Almamezcalera

Erick Rodriguez of Almamezcalera

My first stop was with Almamezcalera. Erick was pouring three new mezcals all distilled with spices and herbs and made from espadilla, a wild espadin, and distilled in clay and wood. I will not call these “healthy” mezcals, as I think mezcal holds medicinal properties period. I started with the Cilantro and Hoja Santa which was incredibly herbaceous (of course) and vaguely anis like. At 54% it was big, spicy and smooth. Next up was the mezcal distilled with ramos – considered a cleansing herb – and at 61% it was surprisingly non-alcoholic, very green and herbaceous. It felt more medicinal in the same way that Fernet does. Last up was the cinnamon and cacao, also at 61%, which was neither sweet nor perfumey which was what I was expecting and why I tasted it last. All three of these mezcals would work great as both aperitivos and digestivos.

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Next up was Chaneque, a major reason I braved the insanity to come to the tasting. I had tried their madrecuishe once in Oaxaca and was intrigued. Juan Carlos Rodríguez, owner of Chaneque, had the whole lineup, and a couple of special mezcals under the table. I rolled through the 59% Coyote from Matatlan; the Mexicano from Sola de Vega (surprisingly musky and not the usual hot sweetness I’ve come to expect from Mexicanos); a 52% 8yr aged (in glass) Espadin from Zoquitlan which blew my socks off with its thickness and richness, and proof of why an Espadin should never be considered pedestrian; a very dry and mineral 52% Tepestate from Sola de Vega that had a strong bite in its finish; and finally a 47% Tobala from Matatlan that had the perfect sweet finish to it. Chaneque should be in the market in a couple of months with the Espadin, Madrecuishe, and Tobala.

Clase Azul Cenizo Mezcal

Clase Azul Cenizo Mezcal

The 49% Mexicano from Los Gentiles was very subtle and had the lovely sweetness you get with this maguey. I saved their collaborative project from Clase Azul – a 44% Cenizo from Durango – for last. This project is an experiment with only 6,000 liters produced (a drop in the bucket for this tequila brand). Created with the idea of economic development and jobs – it is part reforestation/cultivation of a wild agave, part art project with is ceramic black bottles, and beaded tops, and a price point of $225.

Creme de Poblano soup from Mayahuel

Creme de Poblano soup from Mayahuel

Thankfully among all the mezcal was some pretty delicious food from Lolo, Uno Dos Tacos, Colibri, Mosto, and Mayahuel in Sacramento which wins the prize for most dedication to come all the way to SF in the midst of the traffic nightmare. And their creme of poblano chile soup – delicious. For me the true treat was the delicious drunken cake from Polvorón Panaderia in Hayward – course textured, moist and only slightly sweet. And their Tres Leches is the bomb. If you can’t get to Hayward, don’t worry, you can get the cake at Uno Dos Tacos.

Pastry from Polvorón

Pastry from Polvorón