If mezcal is the new wellness drink of the year, 2020 can bring it on.
Mezcal, for those unfamiliar, is tequila’s raspy-voiced, cool older sister. Both tequila and mezcal are from the agave plant, but the key similarities end there.
Other than probably a few regrets, when you throw back a shot of tequila, what else are you throwing back? That’s where it gets tricky. Many high-end brands use 100% agave to create their liquor, but according to the Tequila Regulatory Council, in order for a liquor to be called tequila, it only has to be composed of 51% agave. The other 49%? A liquid called a “tequila helper,” made from other types of sugar. Even crazier? Tequila brands aren’t required to list the sugary sources (like cheap cane sugar and caramel color additives) of their “tequila helpers.”
Then there’s mezcal, the liquor that’s made from agave, like tequila. However, the difference is it’s way cleaner- in ingredients and process. What makes mezcal the preference of wellness warriors? Due to its traditional production process, mezcal must contain 100% agave by law. It’s the cleanest spirit on the market. And it’s trending like crazy.
The spirit has a complex taste, with more depth than tequila and interesting undertones. Cooking processes, types of agave, and fermentation can also leave mezcal with spicy, floral, earthen, ashy, and sweet flavors depending on the process and specific ingredients.
“Mezcal is [often] made by roasting agave hearts in a large pit, crushing the roasted hearts with a tahona stone to release the juices, and then fermenting the juices and fibers in wooden containers and distilling in a copper still,” explains AdrinAdrina of Gem & Bolt. “It’s an alchemical and beautiful craft. One of our favorite parts is the use of natural yeasts from the local ecosystem to help the fermentation process.”
Unfortunately, we still have to keep in mind that it’s still alcohol. “It’s got the reputation of being healthier, but it’s not a health food,” says chef, certified nutritionist, and The Thinking Girl’s Guide to Drinking author Ariane Resnick. “When I have a drink with mezcal, I always enjoy it, but I never want a second one. Due to the smoky woodiness, I feel like it’s somewhat dehydrating.” So think sips, not shots. Or shots in moderation. Or… well, up to you.
In any case, Ariane says “you’ll get the best experience—and the least chance of a hangover—if you’re choosing low-sugar mixers and fresh ingredients.”
So, in 2020, raise a glass to mezcal, your smoky sipping standard.
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