Celebrating Mezcal, Tequila’s Cousin, at the Mexican Cultural Institute

20170501_190528_3_bestshotAgave is an ingredient that is still rather exotic in the United States, but there is one form of it that tequila fans can fall in love with.

The Mexican Cultural Institute played host to an event on Monday evening featuring Montelobos Mezcal Ambassador Camille Austin and a premier tasting of one of Mexico’s oldest traditions — Mezcal — called Mexico in a Bottle.

Born in Mexico, Austin’s mission is to honor the Oaxacan heritage and culture by sharing the art of agave and the tradition of mezcal.  With her guidance, guests had ample opportunity to taste plentiful varieties of mezcal… likely making them wish they had acquainted themselves with this drink sooner!

So what is mezcal? Like tequila, it is made from the agave plant. The 20170501_183048_8_bestshotdifference between the two is that tequila can only stem from the blue agave plant, while varieties of agave plants can produce mezcal. The result is that there isn’t only one type of mezcal – even the use of copper pots instead of coal pots can lead to different results! Mezcal vendors included Almamezcalera and Siete Misterios, among others.

20170501_183926_8_bestshotMezcal is a fairly strong drink, even in small doses, so tempering its effects is a must! Viridyana Velarde, who is the CEO of Merci Mercado, said that it is customary to eat orange slices, which she served with a chapulines (grasshoppers) salt and a gusano (worm) salt, while drinking mezcal.

Oyamel, La Cocina VA, and Manos de Maíz provided dishes of food that are complex and good accompaniments to any mezcal that20170501_182310_5_bestshot you drink. The chapulines, however, were the food stars that night – they offer a umami taste and a crunchy texture that went well with the food and drinks that were served!