Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-DAAAH Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-DA! That’s me singing the tequila song, while doing the twist.
I love tequila. But I am not a “shots” person…at all. Because why? Tequila can be wonderful and delicious on its own, without the lime and salt. Imagine if someone poured a coke into a glass of single barrel bourbon, or made a cocktail out of a perfect single malt scotch? I mean, you could, but why? I feel the same way about well made tequila. It should be sipped lovingly, at just below room temperature, neat. And same goes for well made mezcal.
Tequila and mezcal are sort of a square and rectangle situation. Technically, tequila is a mezcal, but it’s made in a very particular manner (usually steamed and always with blue agave) in a very particular place (Jalisco and a few small areas). Not unlike Champagne, tequila is regulated. Mezcal, on the other hand, is a bit more wild and looser. Mezcal is made with roasted agave and for locals, they prefer to drink it joven, or unaged. It’s clear, it’s peppery, smokey, and a touch vegetal, and like scotch, has a distinct style based on the distiller, the farm, and the process employed. They’re also served a little differently down in Mexico.
Tequila can be served on its own, but it’s also sometimes served with Sangrita, meaning “Little Blood.” This accompaniment to tequila blanca became popular in the 1920s, where it is meant to snap the palette back to attention so you can enjoy the true flavor of the tequila. The bright, acidic, and spicy flavor of the sangrita is a fantastic palette cleanser, and compliments the flavors of the tequila perfectly.
Mezcal is typically served with orange slices and sal de gusano (salt ground with the dried caterpillars that infest agaves). The combination of sweet, tart, and salty are meant to accent and sort of contradict the flavors in the mezcal. But don’t worry if you can’t find sal de gusano, chili salt works just fine as well.
I hope you enjoy sipping your mezcal and tequila as much as I do this weekend. Salud!
2 tablespoons lime
2 tablespoons lemon
2 tablespoons grapefruit
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Combine, chill, sip.