If you were asked to name a Mexican alcoholic beverage, which one would you answer? Probably Tequila, right? While this is probably the best known around the world as Mexican, there is another alcoholic liquor that is quite similar although less popular called mezcal.
Both of these beverages have several characteristics that differentiate them. Some of these characteristics are the plants they come from and their distillation processes. On the one hand, tequila can only be produced with blue agave and cooked in steam ovens, while mezcal can be produced with up to 20 different types of maguey and is cooked in wood ovens, hence its flavor has the characteristic of being a bit smoky.
Mezcal dates back to the first settlers of what is now Mexico, sometime between 1000 and 1500 BC. These ancient civilizations were already using the maguey plant for various activities such as house construction, medicinal properties and to produce distillates, among others.
Thanks to the fact that this distillate has existed for so many years, it also has a strong family tradition in its origins. This originates from the fact that the makers of mezcal, better known as maestros mezcaleros, taberneros or vinateros, pass these titles on to their children and grandchildren.
These new generations learn to elaborate mezcals in family palenques since their childhood as a way to economically support their families. Thanks to this tradition and their unique knowledge in the production of mezcal, the cultural richness of this beverage is still preserved.
Another characteristic that makes it unique is that, like tequila, it has a Denomination of Origin from the states of Durango, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas, although 90% of the total production takes place in the state of Oaxaca.
When you try this drink you may find it a little strong, because in order to be considered Mezcal it must have an alcohol content between 35% and 55%. This is the origin of the saying "For everything bad mezcal, for everything good too", since after a few mezcalitos you forget any sorrow, and at the same time it is so pleasant that at any happy moment, it can also be enjoyed.
How to drink Mezcal?
If you don't know how to enjoy this drink, here are some ideas on the best ways to do it:
In Mexico we say that mezcal is not drank in sips, but rather in kisses, "to get to know it better". In other words, you have to drink it little by little from the glass, in small gulps, in order to enjoy its flavor. To do this, the most traditional way is "straight" in a tequila glass or shot glass, with orange slices sprinkled with worm salt.
If the "kisses" don't work for you and it still seems too strong, you can also mix a little mezcal with hibiscus water and you get a smoother cocktail but still with the unique flavor of mezcal.