One of our favorite activities at Tales of the Cocktail is attending a spirited dinner. Neither as festive as the brand-sponsored parties nor as hectic as the tasting rooms, a spirited dinner is typically a relaxed affair that allows you to really delve into the featured spirit. Of course, sometimes those dinners also involve strip teases and a harrowing display with nails, but we’ll get to that later.
We joined a few dozen diners at Tivoli & Lee for a dinner put on by Mezcal El Silencio. We were treated to some seriously delicious food, plus mezcal tastes, mezcal cocktails and some mezcal knowledge. The latter came from the brand’s charismatic founder, Fausto Zapata. Mezcal El Silencio is a newcomer to the market, having just been released in 2013. It’s a small batch, joven mezcal that’s distilled in Oaxaca from a blend of three agaves — espadin, tobasiche and mexican. Using traditional production techniques, the agave plants are harvested once they reach maturity at about eight to 10 years old. From there, the hearts of the agave plants are cooked in a stone pit for at least three days before being crushed and ground by a horse-pulled stone wheel called a tahona. The liquid is fermented, distilled and bottled and there you have it.
Mezcal El Silencio shined in the cocktails served that evening, playing nicely with Pimm’s in a modified Pimm’s Cup and acting as the backbone in a yellow chartreuse, orgeat and strawberry kombucha situation. But drinking it straight was our preference, and in doing so we found a spirit full of earthy vegetation, dried fruits and light, sweet smoke. It was savory and velvety on the tongue with a clean finish, and from start to finish it respected and highlighted the agave. We liked it.
We should also note that during dinner, a spirited lady named GoGo McGregor entertained the crowd with a few burlesque acts — including one that saw her literally hammer a nail into her own face which, yes, seems an odd companion to dinner — but she put on a fine show. And that, along with the mezcal, left an impression we won’t soon forget.
Mezcal El Silencio is currently available in the Los Angeles area (with distribution expanding soon) and can also be purchased online.