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The Perfect Bottle Of Mezcal For Every Stage Of Your Party


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Mezcal is burning up the cocktail scene right now. Bartenders are switching out tequilas, whiskeys, and rums for the Mexican agave spirit in almost any cocktail. Mezcal Old Fashioneds, mezcal margaritas, mezcal Manhattans, mezcal you-name-its are all here to give off their vegetal smoky vibes. And we’re here for all of it.

A micro primer: Mezcal is the umbrella agave spirit that tequila was born from. Whereas tequila has to be made from blue agave in Jalisco, mezcal can be made from various agave plants in several states around Mexico. Oaxaca tends to dominate the conversation, especially as far as exports are concerned, but the point of a great mezcal is a local, traditional operation that uses smoky roasting, stone milling, wild yeasts, and classic distillation. The “where” isn’t quite as prominent as the “how.”

Mezcal’s endless variations make it the perfect spirit to explore during a party. You get the familiarity of tequila with the nuance of a great whiskey (when it’s aged). The six bottles below will kick off your journey through the world of mezcal, offering a gateway to the style and upping your game by the end of the night.

Del Maguey Crema De Mezcal — The Welcome Drink

What to talk about:

Del Maguey’s Crema de Mezcal is a combination of a 100 percent espadín agave mash that’s cut with miel de agave, an unfermented roasted agave syrup. The addition of the miel de agave smoothes this one out, allowing an easy entry point to the spirit with its harsh edges whittled away.

Tasting notes:

You’re met with clear notes of smoke, citrus, and roasted agave up front. The sweetness from the roasted agave honey comes into play but stays in the passenger seat next to the rich smokiness, fruity nature, and rich herbal notes. This is a great sip, shot, or margarita base.

Buy a bottle here for $40.99

Alipus San Juan del Rio Mezcal — Pre-dinner Cocktail Hour

What to talk about:

Alipus utilizes local village distillates from around Oaxaca to highlight the terroir, water, and vegetation of the region. The young mezcal is made with espadín agave and is traditionally harvested, roasted, fermented, and distilled by locals.

Tasting notes:

Herbals like mint and rose greet you on this sip. The agave starts off raw and juicy then ebbs towards a smoky, roasted agave flavor. Lemon, basil, and black pepper come into play as the smokiness leads you towards a mildly warm finish. Using this as a margarita base will make the drink more complex than you’re used to in a very good way.

Buy a bottle here for $51.96

Mezcal Vago Elota — With Dinner

What to talk about:

Mezcal Vago is flipping the mezcal game on its head. Their Elota is masterfully distilled twice and then steeped with roasted sweet corn for seven days before it’s distilled for a third time. The resulting mezcal encapsulates the height of local produce, smoky roasting, stone milling, funky fermenting, and expert distilling.

Tasting notes:

Smoke is front and center. Rich, buttery roasted sweet corn comes into play and centers this sip around the roasted agave with notes of fresh mint, vanilla, tropical juicy fruits, and dry straw earthiness. The complexity of this sip makes it a perfect food pairing partner.

Buy a bottle here for $59.99

Sombra Mezcal — Party Time

What to talk about:

This is a utility mezcal. Look, you’re already three drinks in (at least) with a full stomach. It’s time to let the handbrake off and indulge in a shooter that works as a margarita base too. Sombra uses 100 percent espadín agave that’s fire-roasted with oak for two whole days. It’s then stone-ground and fermented for eight days with local yeasts. Finally, the booze is distilled to smoky perfection.

Tasting notes:

Smoke and honeycombs open this one up. Notes of garden peas, fatty walnuts, rich toffee, and black pepper accent the driving force of the smokiness. A rich sweetness comes back into play on the backend as the smoke fades into a warm finish.

Buy a bottle here for $40.99

Ilegal Mezcal Reposado — Farewell Drink

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What to talk about:

Ilegal Mezcal starts off with espadín agave that’s roasted for seven days with river stones providing the heat in an earthen pit, giving new meaning to low and slow. A donkey-drawn tahona stone then grinds the agave before it goes into a wild, natural fermentation process. The fermented agave juice is then twice distilled in stainless steel and then copper before going into lightly charred and toasted American oak barrels for four months.

Tasting notes:

There’s a vegetal nature upfront alongside a touch of that toasted oak. Freshly cracked black pepper comes in with an orchard full of ripe pears and sweet peaches that leads to a hint of creamy caramel. Wisps of pipe tobacco lead you back to the smokiness of the roasted agave with a touch of oak vanilla before the subtle warmth fades into the last echoes of the earthy smoke.

This is the bottle that’ll leave your guests wanting more as they head home.

Buy a bottle here for $69.99

Mezcal Clase Azul — Parting Gift

What to talk about:

Look, you’re not buying this mezcal just for the bottle, but it’s definitely a perk. This matte black, grit covered bottle does a great job of representing the darker, more nuanced nature of mezcal when contrasted by Clase Azul’s famous white, hand-painted bottles. The bell topper is intricately beaded in the style of the Huichol Indigenous people, making this the sort of conversation piece that your guests would be thrilled to have in their home bars.

As for the mezcal itself, tradition is key. The agave comes from the hills of Espadin — where it takes 12-15 years to mature. The agave hearts are then roasted in an underground oven with firewood and volcanic rock; mashed by hand, using only an axe; then distilled in a copper still with a wooden capital (superstructure) that Clase Azul affectionately calls “Old Man.” This isn’t about experimenting with new techniques, it’s about reflecting the Mexican agave tradition to the fullest possible extent.

Tasting notes:

The smoke in this bottle has nothing to prove. It’s there — on the nose and through the sip — but it never overtly dominates the other flavors. The more prominent flavor here is a sort of grassy minerality derived from the agave, obviously, but also the natural springs of Durango.

If you were going to gift a conversation-piece bottle of mezcal for your guests that would also act as a nuanced, delicate entry point to the spirit — in which the agave’s vegetal nature gets as much time at center stage as the smokiness — this would be the bottle to buy. Obviously, for this price the only way you’re giving it out to all your party guests is if you just won an Oscar, but if you are planning to win an Oscar (aren’t we all, sort of), take note.

Buy a bottle here for $249.99

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