Ahh… Tek-EE-la! No! Mes-KAL! No, Tequila! WTF’s the difference? Up until a few years ago, I’d be damned if I knew because in truth - none - of the bars I’ve worked over the last 20 or so years ever bothered to carry any Mezcal whatsoever. It just wasn’t “a thing” or in demand. Well folks, times have changed. With the proliferation of speakeasy’ish throwback bars in NYC the last few years, obscure, off-beat, and unique spirits are all the vogue and Mezcal is no exception. In other words, Hipsters and wealthy urban professionals are demanding here in The Big Apple are blowing this previously unpopular spirit up making it the next “thing.” But don’t the fact that douchebag-central loves them some Mezcal stop you from enjoying an utterly enjoyable off-the-beaten-path bevie come bevie time.
In reality, Mezcal has been around for a long, long time. It’s just that said spirit is enjoying quite the resurgence thanks to the explosion in popularity of trendy – yet seemingly exclusive – quality imbiberies like Beauty & Essex, Bathtub Gin, Ward III, Dutch Kills, Employees Only, Dear Irving and The Garret. This wonderful list of some of my favorite throwback cocktal lounges can go far deeper.
Mezcal is just like Tequila except not. In a nutshell, they’re both made form the pinas, or centers, of certain varieties of Mexican desert plants: Blue Agave for Tequila, and Whereas quality Tequila’s base is the well-known Blue Agave, Mezcal is made from the Maguey (a.k.a., American Aloe or Amareican Agave). Mezcal pinas are roasted which impart a hella smoke flavor – yum!
Adam Clark Estes writes:
“It sounded like more of a revelation than a discovery. A few years later, I got my first taste of mezcal, when another friend brought back a bottle from Oaxaca. I’m not a tequila drinker, but I was quickly informed that tequila and mezcal are close siblings of very, very different temperaments. Mezcal is not something you take a shot of but rather something you put in a sniffer. It’s all smoke at first taste, but when it clears, a bouquet of flavor opens on your palette, and the distinctive sweetness of agave slides across your tongue. This I could sip!”
But don’t take this dumbass’s word for it. The geek that I am at heart, I refresh my Gizmodo, Gawker, Jalopnik, and Jezebel tabs like maybe, I dunno – 6,455 times a day jonesing for yet another exquisitely written story about… technology. So head on over to Gizmodo for the ultimate article about NYC’s spirit-du-jour, Mezcal. There’s a great write-up of the quintessential Mezcal restaurant/bar on the Lower East Site, an insightful list of Mezcal recommendations which can be bought in NYC’s boutique liquor stores.
Drink up suckers!