When you go to Mexico City, don’t order tequila. Or a margarita for that matter. Order mezcal. It’s the drink of choice and will earn you immediate respect from the locals. Mezcal is smokier than tequila, but with similar effects, and it pairs nicely with the spicy food and the flavors Mexico City is known for. While visiting recently we were fortunate enough to do a tasting with the family that distilled the fine spirit and got the run down on how to properly consume mezcal. It’s quite easy, and damn good.
1. Smell it: Dip a finger in the mezcal and rub it on your palm. Let the alcohol evaporate then smell your hand. This brings out the true smell.
2. Cleanse your palate: Use a serrano pepper, cut lime and salt. Rub a cut piece of the pepper on the lime wedge, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the lime then bite the lime.
3. Drink the Mezcal: Neat.
*Note: Young mezcal is higher in alcohol content and can be more potent. The older it gets the more the alcohol burns off and the smoother it gets. It also picks up more of the flavor from the wood casks it’s fermented in.
Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también: For every ill, mezcal, and for every good as well.
Special thanks to Iva Pawling, Allie Greenberg and Chad Cress from Richer Poorer for opening our eyes to the beauty, ambition and spirit of Mexico City. Already trying to get back. —Scott Chenoweth