If you are a tequila drinker then you have seen your fair share of tequila bottles. And next to those bottles is tequilas sexy older sister Mezcal. If you’re wondering “what is Mezcal?”, this is the post for you. Firstly let’s get the technicalities out of the way. Mezcal is a category of liquor as well as a brand.
Hailing from the state Oaxaca, in the southern part of Mexico this smokey pungent spirit is made from 28 varieties of the agave plant (just not the blue agave… that would be Tequila). It’s only legally allowed to be made in that state.
The part of the agave plants that gets cooked is called a “pina”, for most Mezcals the cooking is done in a pit under/in the ground. These pinas are cooked with wood on top of lava rocks, which give the Mezcal its smokey flavor.
If you find yourself staring at the bottom of some Mezcal bottles and you see a worm don’t worry you’re not just drunk it’s actually there. The official origins of why the worm is in the bottom of the are unknown. Some say it was a marketing tactic, and some say there’s a more spiritual reason behind it. A simple explanation is that the particular worm found in those bottles is actually a larvae called “gusano”, and this larvae can be found feasting on the leaves of the agave plants. Maybe one just fell in the bottle and it stuck? No one truly knows.
You’ll find that Mezcal is a bit more expensive than Tequila, and definitely a different taste profile for sure, but definitely just as enjoyable if you drink it right. If you’re looking to try Mezcal straight, order it neat (no ice) with a slice of orange instead of lime. If this is your first time drinking it you may just get an overwhelming taste of smoke, but as you get used the spirit you begin to get more of a spice, meaty flavor out of it. Either way, you’ll definitely get some machismo points for knowing what Mezcal is and actually have the gall to drink it. So next time you find your self at the bar look around and if you have the chance, try it and tell us what you think in the comments below.