“Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también”
The Oaxaca saying, “For everything bad, Mescal; for everything good, the same” pretty much sums up the story of this socially shy drink. Shy but comes with a baggage of history. There is a myth that long, long ago an agave plant was struck by the anger of a lightning bolt cooking it up to release a sacred juice, the “elixir of the Gods”.
Contrary to its alcoholic counterparts, Mescal is a mood lifter with its after effect funkiness that gradually stimulates into a warm scotch like musty feeling. This perfectly blended charm of the drink is prepared in rather small Mexican family distilleries that use underground pit ovens to roast the agave.
A Quick Test: Rub a bit of Mescal on the back of your hand to check for smoothness. The stickier it is the more the added unnatural sugars. An original mescal bottle is hand signed with colourful Zapotec prints.
Mescal has been long enjoyed over the years by both the locals and foreign visitors of Mexico. The virgin of all drinks, since it is not mixed with any other liquids, just about 6 years ago found its way across international borders to places like San Francisco, New York, and Berlin. However, it still isn’t a wildfire due to its humble producers, distillery owners who hardly can afford the export expenditure. In time one can find the drink in its commercial version as investment groups build up factories for large scale production of the drink ripping it off its spirit with industrialised form.
The difference between Tequila and Mescal:
All tequilas are mescals.
The catch is, agave based liquors belong to the Mescal family, and of more than 30 agave varieties by law only the Blue Agave is used to produce Tequila. And the most popular for the mescal is Agave Espadin (found in Oaxaca, the land of mescals).
Buyers Advice: Del Maguey’s San Luis del Rio Azul is a specially bottled, exceptionally brilliant mescal made with blue agave.
The vintage process of the 1600s used even today is what indefinitely sets mesccal apart from tequila giving it that unique flavour. The method used for cooking the pina (useful part of the agave) makes all the difference. Tequila is the modern technology born drink, where the pinas are cooked in autoclaves whereas mescals come from an elaborately rich handcrafted process that uses earthen underground pits to obtain the smoky flavour. This is subsequently followed by a traditional crushing method with a tahona (a horse/donkey rotating a wheel) administered by a Master Mezcalero). Now you know why it is worth paying a good price for a premium quality mescal.
Geographical Trivia: As Oaxaca is the hub of mescal making, so is Jalisco for tequila, especially since there is actually a town named “Tequila” there. And if you want to have the best of the drinks, then Michoacan, Guanajuato, and Tamaulipas are your places.
Mescal and Food Pairing
Usually it is not mixed with cocktails or any other liquids, but is relished in its raw form. The traditional Oaxaca style pairs a mescal with a side of sliced oranges sprinkled with “Sal de gusano” (worm salt- mixture of ground fried larvae, ground chili peppers, and salt.) or roasted grasshoppers. Mezcal Enlightement: called as “vino” the countryside of southern Mexico sips on it before, during, and after dinner in wine glasses!
What else, but a traditional Mexican BBQ alone can do justice to an ideal private fine dining evening of Mescal indulgence. After a lazy siesta afternoon, call your friends for a kick back in home dining experience in Singapore by hiring your own private chef. Jason Vito, our personal chef will charm your guests with a Mexican style BBQ fiesta that also has a variety of vegetarian dishes for the veggie lovers. Party on till the funkiness of the mescal gets you and your guests all bright and breezy, and then you can finish up with a Churros y Chocolate, hot chocolate with cinnamon-sugared pastry.