Mezcal is quickly becoming America’s favorite Mexican import. Bartenders across the country have ditched tequila in favor of its smoky cousin, and many prefer it for its depth (and the lack of embarrassing college memories associated with it, I’m sure).
What is mezcal made from?
Mezcal is distilled from a mash of roasted agave plants, but unlike tequila—which can only use the variety known as blue agave—it can be made from many different cultivars. Traditionally, the spirit was made with whatever regional varieties were available to the people making it.
And contrary to popular belief, the worm in the bottom of the bottle is absolutely not a necessary component. In fact, you’ll find that nearly every brand that contains one is inferior. The worm tradition was actually started to give these spirits added flavor (yuck!), and was first done by Nacionale Vinicola in their Gusano Rojo mezcal.
Today, small-batch mezcal producers are springing up all over Oaxaca (the Mexican state where mezcal is most traditionally produced) and beyond. One of my personal favorites is Del Maguey. Their single-village distilling method encourages small producers to use traditional techniques, and as a result the brand tends to demonstrate unique flavor profiles from distinct growing regions.
For the summer, I’ve put together a collection of some of my favorite mezcal cocktails. Some are classics, others are new-school favorites, and two of them were concocted right here in the Bevvy Cocktail Lab!