Spicy spirits: Mezcal

PSSST. Hey, you with the Teflon tastebuds. You may be a pro at tossing back tequila, but have you tried smoky, peppery mezcal?

I know a little bit about mezcal, but when Danielle Eddy of DISCUS (who knows everything and everyone in the NY booze universe) invited me to join her at Louis 649 for a mezcal tasting, of course I was in.  It turned out to be a very full evening, beyond just the mezcal.

While I waited for Danielle to extricate herself from rush hour traffic, I ordered an aperitif:  The Evelyn Waugh, made with sugar syrup, orange bitters, sparkling wine, and a gunpowder dash of cayenne pepper. Whoo!

The Evelyn Waugh

Here’s a look at the mezcal tasting. Led by charming distiller Hector Vazquez, we sampled Blanco, Joven, Reposado, and Anejo mezcals (from least to most aged), each a little mellower than the previous sample.

A few, semi-random things we learned:

  • Like tequila, mezcal is produced from the agave plant, but that’s where the similarity ends. Tequila must be made from blue agave; mezcal may be produced from any of several species. Further, while tequila must be produced from plants grown only in a specified area, mezcal may be made anywhere in Mexico. 
  • The name of the brand is changing from Los Danzantes to Los Nahuales.
  • His mezcal is made using spring water purchased from a cooperative of women who live in the mountains.
  • Mezcal is made from fermented yeast, and  “we play classical music to the yeast.” Nice.


After the tasting concluded, Mark Maurice of Edward III came over to say hello; he’s using the Tuthilltown facilities upstate to make New York’s first local Absinthe! Although he kindly offered me a sample, unfortunately by then my palate was too numb to try.

After that, we headed over to Madame Geneva for the second night of the Cocktail All-Stars; Danielle (I told you, she knows everyone!) already had us both on “the list” and despite the mob scene we breezed right in, just in time to try the Delhi Daisy, made with a hit of curry powder, and some steamed pork-belly buns.  I love the look of the little glass tea-pots full of goldfish, although I hope the fish aren’t unhappy in that tiny space.

The Delhi Daisy: still-life with goldfish

P.S.  Hopefully these photos are improving. For starters, I’ve traded up to using a proper digital camera, which has a flash, vs. my cell phone camera.


3 thoughts on “Spicy spirits: Mezcal

  1. Pingback: Trend-spotting: Curry Cocktails « Spice & Ice, and more…

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