Mezcal is a unique spirit with a smokey flavor originating from Mexico. This alcohol is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, especially as part of a craft cocktail menu, and many individuals find themselves wanting to learn more about the origins of this spirit and how to drink it properly.
Below, we give you all of the important information you need regarding what mezcal is, how to drink it properly, and popular recipes including mezcal. Armed with this information, you can enjoy your mezcal all the more the next time you take a sip of this smokey beverage.
What Is Mezcal?
Mezcal is an alcoholic beverage that is created from the agave plant. Tequila and mezcal are often confused due to being created from agave, but these spirits do have differences. It’s also important to note that the Mexican government has strict rules about what is allowed to be labeled as tequila and mezcal, and while all tequila is considered mezcal, not all mezcal is considered tequila. The main differences between mezcal and tequila are the species of agave that create the alcohol (only the blue Weber agave is permitted for tequila) and the distilling process used in mezcal to give it its signature smokey taste.
Mezcal originates from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, and this spirit has been around in some form since the 1500s. Mezcal is a clear liquor, and it will range from white to gold in color depending on the species of agave used in production. It’s perceived as a traditional drink, and many individuals enjoy it as a beverage to sip on.
The taste of mezcal is distinctive, and it has a strong smokey taste complemented by floral and fruity notes. Some mezcals may have a hint of sweetness, while others have a more robust earthy flavor. Sipping slowly on mezcal is the best way to taste the full spectrum of flavors offered by this drink.
What Is the Alcohol Content of Mezcal?
Like most spirits, mezcal has a high alcoholic content and is quite strong to drink. The ABV of mezcal ranges between 40 and 55 percent, which is higher than tequila. Most mezcal is 80 to 110 proof.
How to Serve Mezcal?
Mezcal can either be served in a traditional fashion or a more modern fashion; both are popular, with the traditional method of serving considered the best way to enjoy this alcohol. For a traditional serving of mezcal, you will need either a coptia, a small cup with a wide opening, or a jicarta, a cup made from the hollowed-out gourds of the Calabash tree. In general, these cups are a couple of inches deep with wide brims to allow the aroma to reach the drinker and the alcohol to properly aerate.
Pour your mezcal into your copita or jicarta and allow it to sit for a moment before savoring the aroma. Take a small sip and hold it in your mouth to get your taste buds acclimated to the strong taste. Once you are used to the mezcal, you can take slightly larger sips, but it’s not recommended to take shots of this alcohol or drink it quickly.
The more modern way to serve mezcal involves using an old-fashioned glass or another cup with a wide brim. You can repeat the same tasting and serving steps using this type of glass when drinking your mezcal neat, which is the recommended way. So, in other words, you can drink it like you would a bourbon Old Fashioned.
Mezcal should be served at room temperature and poured directly into cups without any mixers for the best experience. Serve mezcal with orange slices and a mix of ground chili peppers and salt to encourage the best flavor in this drink.
What Is a Serving Size of Mezcal?
The standard serving size of mezcal is a shot, which is around 1.5 ounces of liquor. This shot is poured into a small cup for sipping, and it’s not recommended that you try to shoot this liquid or consume it all at once.
Can You Drink Mezcal Straight?
Drinking mezcal straight and neat is the recommended consumption for this spirit. By leaving mezcal as pure as possible, you are better able to appreciate the flavors found in this unique alcohol.
What Are the Best Mixers for Mezcal?
In general, it’s not recommended to enjoy mezcal with mixers – this sipping alcohol is best served at room temperature and neat. However, if you want to blend your mezcal with a mixer for an enhanced experience, it pairs well with chilled ginger beer, grapefruit soda, or a citrus-flavored seltzer.
What Other Liquors Go Well With Mezcal?
Mezcal is often used in cocktail recipes, and this is its most popular use in the United States. This liquor combines well with other sweet or spicy liquors, and you may find it partnered with yellow chartreuse, gin, Campari, limoncello, or even tequila.
What Are the Best Mezcal Recipes?
Mezcal is a popular substitute in many classic recipes, and it is often used in craft cocktail making for its unique flavor. You can utilize mezcal in a margarita, Manhattan, or an Old Fashioned to put a new spin on these drinks, or you can combine mezcal with various juices like grapefruit or lime and simple syrup to craft a fruity cocktail experience.
How to Prevent a Mezcal Hangover?
Mezcal is notorious for not causing hangovers as strong as other types of liquors, and this is partially due to the recommended consumption of small sips and the way mezcal is metabolized by the human body. That being said, any liquor can cause a hungover when consumed to excess, and it’s important to pace yourself when drinking mezcal. Follow sips of mezcal with sips of water to prevent the alcohol from catching up with you the next day.
Mezcal is a unique spirit with a long history of distillation. Originating from Mexico, mezcal is becoming increasingly popular in the world of craft cocktails around the United States. Whether you choose to enjoy mezcal traditionally or mix it into a distinctive cocktail, allow yourself to sip slowly and truly taste the intriguing smokey flavors of mezcal.