From health-giving properties to hipster points and even possible enlightenment, here are nine brilliant reasons to make friends with Mexican spirit Mezcal tonight.
1. IT WON’T GIVE YOU A HANGOVER
Cultivated from 100% agave and so drawing upon the health benefits of the mystical plant, proper Mezcal won’t make you feel ill the next morning.
2. It’s enlightening
The process of cultivating this spirit results in an uplifting sensation taking drinkers to a higher state of enlightenment, unlike other booze that ultimately suppress emotions, according to brand Mezcal Amores and a few of my own practical trials.
3. It’s actually good for you
The sugars found in the agave plant - agavines - have been proven to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, according to EliteDaily.com
4. Not all Mezcal is smoky
Tequila is a form of Mezcal, the only difference between the two being that Tequila has to be made from purely blue agave, while standard Mezcal can be made from any agave plant (there are 22 different species, making it one of the most complex and interesting spirits around).
The smoked flavour (created by baking the heart of the plant in the ground) is often used in Mezcal to create a point of difference from Tequila, but it’s only one part of the production process and not all brands use it, while some only smoke their product lightly.
5. You don’t have to eat worms
The ‘hallucinogenic’ worm at the bottom of the bottle is a total marketing ploy to shift cheap, low quality product. Good Mezcal will never contain any kind of insect.
Master sommelier and U.S. Mezcal importer Richard Betts says there is no history of Mezcals containing the larva beyond the promotional effect: "If it's a brand with a bug in it, it's purely a gimmick.” he said.
6. It’s super hot right now
I’ll be toasting the Mexican Day of the Dead festival tonight with the El Camion crew in Soho, who are constantly adding to an already serious Tequila and Mezcal collection. The v cool Brahms and Liszt in Hackney offers Mezcal masterclasses in a tiny underground tasting room and Wahaca’s dedicated Mezcaleria in Charlotte Street is a stylish celebration of everything agave.
7. It’s kind to SMALL PRODUCERS AND the planet
BarChick, expert in all things brilliant and boozy, says: "The appeal of Mezcal is its rustic, homemade character. With big companies not yet jumping on the bandwagon and mass producing it in factories, Mezcal is still mostly made by hand in the manner it has been for over 200 years. It’s owned by smaller producers, often families and the liquid in the bottle reflects that with full character, strong fiery and mineral flavours."
Artisanal brand Mezcal Amores is typical of these small, considerate producers, planting 10 new agave plants for every one they use in order to combat deforestation and even reinvesting 15% of operating profit in the local communities
8. It comes in v. cool bottles
Often limited edition and hand-signed and/or numbered which make great presents and/or cocktail trolley centre pieces.
9. It’s great for people who don’t like sweet cocktails
Because it works best with punchy, savoury flavours including ginger, lime, fennel, lemon and rosemary. Which also deliver their own unique health properties. Win win!