“El mezcal no te emborracha, te pone mágico.” ~ Mexican adage
(Translation: “Mezcal doesn’t get you drunk; it makes you magical.”)
Last week, Elephant Journal’s editor-in-chief, Waylon Lewis, visited Tulum, Mexico, for the first time.
On social media, he invited people to share any advice they have regarding visiting this ancient land.
While I read many great suggestions about visiting sacred ruins, pyramids, cenotes, or delicious vegan restaurants and coffee shops, I decided to share the little (but proud) knowledge I have about my favorite, eco-friendly) Mexican drink: mezcal.
Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave, and most of it is produced in Oaxaca, Mexico.
I’m a huge fan because, when we drink it consciously, it is delicious, full of tradition, and fun.
Here are my suggestions on how to drink it:
1. Don’t drink it in cocktails. Mixology is great—but when it comes to mezcal, bars will usually mix cocktails with the cheapest mezcal, and you won’t be able to appreciate the flavors fully. (Unless you just want to party and take the risk that they’ll give you a straw.)
2. If you are vegan, beware of the pechuga and conejo kind of mezcal. These words literally means “breast” and “rabbit,” and these types of mezcal have been prepared by putting a chicken breast or rabbit inside the barrel—so, a “no-no” for vegans. Same goes for the sal de gusano, which is a dried, powdered worm.
However, if you are not vegan—go for the worm salt! It’s surprisingly delicious. (But not the worm; that’s just not a thing.)
3. If it’s possible, drink the mezcal in a jicarita. A jicarita has been used since ancient times, before the Spanish conquered. They’re usually made out of bule—a fruit that, when emptied, is hard enough for it to become a cup. It is great because it is wide, so the aroma can be fully appreciated. If you have the opportunity to take one home, do it; jicaritas are supposed to be personal and never washed, so that they become slowly impregnated with the mezcal flavors.
If your bar doesn’t have jicaritas, don’t worry, a shot glass will do; just wait a couple of minutes after it has been served to allow the aromas to be set free.
4. It is not tequila, so never, ever drink it as a shot. Mezcal is to be sipped slowly. Take a sip—and then, take a moment to allow it to mix with your saliva. Doing this breaks its acidity; it will release the flavors, and it won’t burn you when you swallow it.
5. Have it with orange slices. The sweetness and citrus flavor goes quite well with the smokey flavors.
My favorite brands are Alipús, Tinieblo, Los Danzantes, and Bruxo—but if there is a special homemade or local mezcal, I will always go for that.
Oh, and a dark beer is always good company for mezcal—and they do not need a straw either!
“Para todo mal mezcal, para todo bien, también y si no hay remedio, litro y medio!” ~ Mexican adage
(Translation: “Mezcal for the bad times, mezcal for the good times, and if there’s no way out, drink the bottle.”)
Author: Montse Leon
Image: Unsplash/Eric Anderson
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Leah Sugerman