All about mezcal, the tequila-like drink you should try

Tacombi serves mezcal with the customary orange slices. Credit: Provided
Tacombi serves mezcal with the customary orange slices.
Credit: Provided

Picture this: You’re on vacation in Mexico, ready to dive fully into the culture. In order to do so successfully, you’ll need a margarita in hand, right? Wrong.

Margaritas are for tourists, says Dieter Wiechmann, creative director of Tacombi at Fonda Nolita. To get the true Mexican drinking experience, you’ll need a glass of mezcal — a smoky twist on tequila that is traditionally enjoyed neat.

Like tequila, mezcal comes from the maguey plant, a type of agave that is native to Mexico. But unlike tequila, which can only be derived from one specific type of maguey plant (blue agave), mezcal can come from all different regions of Mexico. “It goes all the way back to the Aztecs,” Wiechmann says, “not in its refined form, but the fermented sugars from the same plant. … When the Spanish arrived, they brought their technology of distillation. That’s when they started making mezcal as it is now.”

Like wine, the different regions produce different flavors. And like whiskey, aging mezcal changes the flavor too. Joven mezcals, the youngest, are bottled immediately after distillation. The next oldest, Reposado, is aged three to six months in oak barrels, creating “a little more color, subtle flavors and sweetness,” Wiechmann says. The oldest form of mezcal, anejo, “gets a much deeper color because it’s in a barrel for a year or more.”

But unlike wine and whiskey, mezcal won’t stick around all that long — it’s not very customary to drink a 10-year bottle, he says.

Do’s and don’ts for drinking it

Don’t ask for extra lime when ordering: The proper garnish is an orange to balance out the flavors, Wiechmann says.

Don’t stress about pairing yours with certain foods — the drink is meant to stand on its own.

Don’t down yours like a Jager Bomb — mezcal is a sipping spirit, meant to be enjoyed.

Do pour a little out before you drink: It’s customary to do so to honor Mayajuel, a fertility goddess who is also the goddess of the agave plant.

Get your fill

Where to drink mezcal in the city

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita
267 Elizabeth St., 917-727-0179

Empellon Cocina
105 First Ave., 212-780-0999

Sembrado
432 E. 13th St., 212-729-4206


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

Local

Future Boston Alliance invites you to #RidetheLine, support…

#RidetheLine aims to show the city, the nation, and the globe our creative impact as Boston citizens.

Local

(Update) Body of missing BU grad Eric Munsell…

The dead man pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon was that of missing 24-year-old Boston University alumnus Eric Munsell, Boston Police said today.

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

Arts

'Becoming Cuba' at Huntington is a bit short…

Playwright Melinda Lopez freely lampoons the English language for its lack of passion in her latest work, “Becoming Cuba.” Ironically, the Huntington Theatre Company’s playwright-in-residence…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

NFL

Patriot’s schedule comes up fair

Those looking for built-in excuses for the Patriots 2014-2015 season will have to look elsewhere, because their schedule came up fair. For the fourth straight…

MLB

Nava demoted, Victorino return imminent

  Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, who was batting a team-low .149/.240/.269, was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. "His struggles at the plate, I…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.