Mezcal and Oaxaca
Most mezcal is produced in southern Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca. A region of incredible biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity, Oaxaca boasts over 16 different indigenous languages and includes arid highlands as well as tropical climates along its Pacific coast. Despite persistent poverty, Oaxacan indigenous communities have preserved their unique cultures and traditions over centuries, making the state one of the most culturally vibrant regions of Mexico (and indeed the world).
One such tradition is Mezcal, a distilled spirit that dates back to Spanish colonial times. Prior to Spanish arrival, indigenous communities consumed pulque, a fermented but not distilled alcoholic beverage produced from the agave plant. With the introduction of distilleries, and the need to rely on local plants for alcohol production, the Spanish and indigenous produced a stronger, and notably smoky, spirit from the same agave plant eventually termed mezcal. Here also lies the origin of tequila (the place name for a village in western Mexico) yet the important distinction between mezcal and tequila lies in the distillation process. Whereas tequila is twice distilled using a steaming process, mezcal relies on an underground roasting process; from which comes its distinctive smoky flavor.
Before local and organic became hip, Oaxacan communities were crafting unique mezcals for the own consumption, controlling the process from the planting of the agave to the pouring of the shot. Each mezcal, like our single origin coffees, reflects uniqueness of place and traditions of cultivation. The mezcal we are featuring is Sombra, a single village mezcal from a highland community called San Juan on the Hormiga river.
We offer it the traditional way, straight up, with worm salt (or maybe just chili salt) and orange slices (to be sipped not shot) and in our margarita 2.0.
As they say in Oaxaca, para todo mal, mezcal y para todo bien, también (for everything bad, mezcal, for everything good, mezcal as well), Salud!
For further reading, see William Taylor’s classic, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages
Written by our Bartender: Shane Dillingham
By Elias | Posted in Bar | Comments (0)