October 21st is National Mezcal Day!
So, What’s the difference between mezcal and tequila?
Mezcal (traditionally spelled mescal) is a Mexican distilled spirit that is made from the agave plant. Tequila is technically a mezcal, however, there are differences in production technique and in the types of agave used. Tequila is made from a single type of agave plant – the agave tequilana (blue agave) – and can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and in small parts of four other states.
When tequila is made, the agave head is baked in an above-ground oven. This began in the late 19th century. Mezcal producers, however, often follow the traditional method of using in-ground pits. The agave heads (also called agave hearts, or piñas) are roasted or grilled over hot rocks in a cone-shaped pit (called palenques or hornos). A fire is started and burns for about 24 hours to heat the stones that line the pit. The agave heads are put into the pit and then covered with moist agave fiber that is left over from the fermentation process. A layer of agave leaves or woven palm leaves cover the fibers and the agave heads are left to cook for two to three days.
Much like tequila, mezcal is regulated by the Mexican government. The regulations split mezcal into two categories:
Type 1: 100% agave
Type 2: Minimum 80% agave and maximum 20% other sugars
The three aging categories are also similar to tequila:
Abacado (joven, blanco, silver): clear, un-aged mezcal that is usually bottled immediately after the distillation process.
Reposado: aged in wood barrels for two to eleven months.
Añejo: aged in wood barrels for at least 12 months.
Toby Keith may be responsible for starting National Mezcal Day and it’s no coincidence that his Wild Shot mezcal was named the No. 1 premium mezcal in the U.S.
We’ve put together a couple of mezcal cocktail recipes for you to try on October 21st.
1½ oz Wild Shot Silver Mezcal
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1½ oz Lime Juice
1½ oz Honey
½ an Avocado
2 Sprigs of Cilantro
In a blender, combine avocado, lime juice, honey and cilantro sprigs. Pour in a mixing glass, add Wild Shot and Grand Marnier. Shake vigorously and strain over ice. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.
Wild Mexican Lemonade
1½ oz Silver Mezcal
3/4 oz Limoncello
½ oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
3-4 oz 7UP
Pour all ingredients over ice into a Mason jar. Top with 7UP. Stir and serve.
Mezcal Old Fashioned
1 shot of Silver Mezcal
1 shot of Bourbon Whiskey
2 dashes of bitters
1 spoonful of sugar
1 splash of water
1 orange wedge
1 tsp Agave Nectar
Stack all ingredients in a shaker, except for the orange wedge. Mix ingredients using the shaker. Shake and pour over ice into a rocks glass. Afterwards, squeeze the orange wedge into the mix, and leave the wedge in the drink.
2 oz Silver Mezcal
3 oz Red Wine
1 part Grand Marnier
1 part Pomegranate Juice
1 part Orange juice
Dash of Agave Nectar
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and refrigerate. Serve chilled.