Historically, the term “Mezcal” has been applied to any agave spirit (the word literally means “oven-cooked agave”), but with its evolution from traditional drink to bartender spirit of choice to commercial product, Mezcal now refers to a regulated denomination of origin. It must be produced in Mexico of course and be distilled at least twice.
Mezcal was created when the Spanish who came to Mexico in the first quarter of the 1500s, brought with them the knowledge of distillation and paired it with the locals knowledge about the “magic” effect of the agave plant.
20-25 years ago Mezcal was considered a drink of the people from the villages. Today the product is competing in the gourmet spirits market and can be found in the finest bars and restaurants around the world.
Here's a quick Mezcal recipe
Hearts of agave plants are baked to release the sugars, crushed to extract the sugary juice and then fermented to make alcohol. This is then distilled twice to create the spirit we know and love today.
But within those simple steps – a lot of variations, adding different flavours such as chicken in the style known as ‘Pechuga’ and creating unique tastes according to wonderful old family recipes handed down through generations.
Smaller producers often make the spirit without any modern instruments, using just primitive tools and horse/donkey power like their ancestors used to do many years ago.
Mezcal vs Tequila
Mezcal is often confused with Tequila. Tequila is in fact a type of Mezcal and while the first one is produced in specific regions of Mexico from a single species of agave, mezcal can be made across Mexico and from any type of agave plants such as the Espadin and Tobala.
This variety gives Mezcal a wider range of tastes. Hence the saying, ‘all Tequila is Mezcal but not all Mezcal is Tequila’.
How to drink Mezcal
Traditionally, Mezcal is served neat in a small ceramic bowl called a ‘copita’, while some serve it in a hollowed shell of a calabash fruit. Some people add a slice of orange and a salty larva-based powder. If you want something genuinely Mexican, make yourself an Old-fashioned that blends a smoky Mezcal, an Anejo Tequila, agave nectar and Angostura bitters.
What about the worm? Is it also an essential ingredient of Mezcal? No, it’s not. It’s all a marketing ploy from the 1940s that wanted to persuade people to switch from Tequila to Mezcal because the worm allegedly made it taste better, and some even said it would make the drinker hallucinate.
Except, it’s not a worm, it’s a larva that lives in agave plants and it doesn’t influence the taste of the spirit So, please, don’t experiment with insects in your drinks and if you see a worm in a bottle of Mezcal, you know it’s not the good stuff. Instead, discover new spirits that just hit the market at Lassou.
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