Whenever I thought of Mezcal, I thought of it as a smokey version of Tequila. I know that Tequila and Mezcal are different spirits, both made from agave, but I was never a fan of the smokiness. But then I met mezcal connoisseur Ulises Torrentera and tasted his Farolito Mezcals, and I have a completely new perspective on Mezcal which I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and you can read here.
There is the saying, “wine is life.” But in Oaxaca, Mexico, “mezcal is life.” I am not talking about tequila, which is a type of mezcal. I am talking about mezcal, a liquor that can be made from more than 30 varieties of agave and is cooked inside earthen pits lined with lava rocks and then distilled in clay pots.
What do you know about Mezcal? Perhaps you think of it as similar to tequila but with strong smoky flavors? That's what I had thought. But, after a Mezcal Monday night led by Gia St.George at Tacoteca in Santa Monica, I learned that Mezcal is a ritual drink that was created to take care of your soul. It is used to heal the body, celebrate life and death and to enjoy the pleasures of life. And, that smokey flavor comes from overcooking the agave.
On the Mezcal Monday night that I attended, I was introduced to Bruxo Mezcal, where I met Brand Ambassador Irais Monroy. Bruxo is prononced "brew-hoh" and is a play on the word "Brujo", which is synonymous with a wizard, sorcerer or shaman. By changing the "j" to an "x", there is a connection to Mexico in the name. Bruxo Mezcal is known for "bringing to earth the complexity of agave flavors, the magic and the heritage of the master Mezcaleros and the “wizards” and "witches”, the Mezcal makers", Irais explained, but it is also known as the mezcal that changed my mind about the category.
It's not hard to find tacos in Los Angeles. From taco stands to taco trucks, we love our tacos. Now Santa Monica has a new taco spot where, in addition to tacos and other dishes,there is a full bar featuring mezcal-based cocktails and craft beers. The Westside needed another great drinking spot. Welcome Tacoteca!
Bartender Gilbert Marquez has crafted the cocktail program. With over 90 mezcals, he has created a menu of modern cocktails that emphasizes indigenous Mexican flavors.
I started with a Bebibas Ancestrales and ordered the Aguacatero (Mezcal, avocado, green chartreuse and lime). The drink comes with a worm salt rim that was spicy and a cricket garnish. Yes, crickets.....after all, they say that insects are the new protein. I went outside my comfort zone and tried them and despite the visual image, they were slightly salty and crispy and don't really taste like anything. I survived!