Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the agave plant, called the piña, much the same way it was 200 years ago, in most places.
Mexico City – Fact Check

How one drinks good mezcal in Mexico

Photo by Pixabay

Mexico City – Fact Check How one drinks good mezcal in Mexico

Thirsty in Mexico City, I recall a poster in an apartment printed with a famous Oaxacan saying: “Para todo mal, mezcal; para todo bien, también.” (“For everything bad, mezcal; for everything good, the same.”) Where, I ask myself, can I find a bottle?

Brian Patrick Eha
Brian Patrick Eha Journalist

At a bar, I meet Paco and his American girlfriend. Paco is a life-long chilango, or resident of Mexico City, while Kelly is a teacher from South Carolina who has worked in Mexico for the past six years and is now applying for permanent residency. Since it's Day of the Dead (the three-day holiday that's celebrated throughout Mexico each year), she is wearing the full costume of La Calavera Catrina, one of José Guadalupe Posada’s creations. Her face is painted to look like a skull, and she wears a bonnet along with a dress and stockings. Originally intended to satirize Mexican women who had adopted European fashions, the figure of a rail-thin skeleton woman in Victorian fancy dress has become an iconic image of death in Mexico.

I am eating entire bowls full of hulled pepitas – toasted and salted pumpkin seeds which serve in place of peanuts as a bar snack. We down tall shot glasses of small-batch mezcal, after licking off our hands sal de gusano, rock salt mixed with chili powder and ground-up agave worms, before biting down on juicy orange slices.

This is how one drinks good mezcal in Mexico. And what mezcal! Smoky and smooth, it is dispensed from huge plastic bottles shelved above our heads. Each is the result of slow-roasting mature hearts of the agave plant over wood fires, sometimes for days, then crushing the cooked agave, fermenting the juice in great vats, and distilling the resulting liquid in wood-heated stills of copper or clay to produce a colorless, fiery libation of great alcoholic potency and complexity of flavor. I savor the lingering smoke as we drink late into the night.

Other stories about Mexico City