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In Defense of Mezcal

In Defense of Mezcal



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There are few things I love more than 100 percent blue agave tequila. I have been known to drink it in all types of creations (and even occasionally from a vuvuzela).

But in the last several years, I started an affair with another agave-based artisanal spirit: mezcal. Like many, I initially cringed at the thought of painfully shooting badly made mezcal from a bottle with a worm in it. (Sorry, Toby Keith, but please stick to music. A worm belongs nowhere near a bottle of quality liquor.)

So how does a man fall for these two related spirits? Well, just as you can enjoy single malts from both Speyside and Islay, you can do the same with tequila and mezcal.

While some say mezcal is merely smoky tequila, it’s more than that. Yes, mezcal does have smoky characteristics that come from slow-cooking the agave in traditional pits in the ground, but they vary in intensity depending upon the producer.

Climate, elevation, and soil can be very different as well. And while tequila distillers can only use a single type of agave, mezcal can be made from a few dozen varieties. The end results are uniquely complex bottlings that deserve serious respect. Look out for some of my favorite brands: Del Maguey, Sombra, and Ilegal.

The liquor also offers bartenders many options to make tasty libations, from original recipes to twists on classics. I added mezcal to the Port Wine Cocktail #3, which I found in The Savoy Cocktail Book. Another good one to try is my mezcal variation on a sour.

And when drinking mezcal, remember the ancient Zapotec toast "stigibeu," which is a salute to your health, the health of your friends, and the life of the planet, Mother Earth. Now that’s something everybody can love.

Get the recipes for Jacques Bezuidenhout’s Port Wine Cocktail #3 and Maguey Sour on Liquor.com.

— Jacques Bezuidenhout

Jacques Bezuidenhout is a national cocktail and tequila ambassador for Partida Tequila and the master mixologist for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. He is also a Liquor.com advisor. This article was originally published at In Defense of Mezcal. For more stories like this, subscribe to Liquor.com for the best of all things cocktails and spirit.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


How to Make a Boilermaker

*You can depth charge the entire shot glass into the beer, or pour out the liquor into the beer. Dealer's choice.

We love to make a cocktail here at Esquire. A Rob Roy in wintertime? Great. A Last Word when we're feeling funky, and a Brain-Duster when we're feeling full-tilt weird? Absolutely. But from where I'm sitting today, on a Friday at home in social isolation, when the dust is collecting on the bottles at the bars that are all closed up, what really sounds good is a shot in one glass and a beer in another&mdasha Boilermaker. In a perfect world, it'd be from the no-nonsense dive down the street. In the world we've got right now, I'll make do on my own. It's not like it's a hard drink to master.

There are two ways to do a Boilermaker. The first asks you to slam a shot of whiskey then drink a beer, while the second has you dunking your shot of whiskey into your beer, then chugging that. Both are efficient and neither is wrong (although for the sake of taste, you might want to keep them separate). Then, like nicotine in your blood or a bucket of cold water to the face, you're feeling more alive than you did however long it took you to down the beer ago. The alcohol is only a part of it. The physicality of a Boilermaker&mdashthat vigorous arm motion, the slamming of the glassware, that gasp for air afterwards&mdashis what gets you flying.

That's not to say that the Boilermaker, much like the Pickleback, hasn't been adopted by finer establishments and roped into elevated pairings of top shelf whiskey and craft microbrews, like wine and stinky cheese. These'll challenge your taste buds, and you'd absolutely be in the right to sip each slowly and alternately, instead of shooting them. Nor are bars limiting themselves to whiskey. The Boilermaker bar in New York, for example, pairs pilsner with mezcal, and raspberry sour ale with Campari. Take that as an invitation to use whatever-the-hell bottle in the kitchen for your own.

The Boilermaker started out as a nothing-fancy drink consumed by blue collar workers after a factory shift some 200 years ago. It remains, at its core, a drink best drunk shoulder-to-shoulder along the bar at a local joint. When heading down the block is out of the question, a Boilermaker is all the more necessary to remind us of those better nights amongst strangers and friends alike. And, we gotta admit, it complements the desperate mood of the hour. As far as whiskey-and-beer pairings go, here are a few recommendations, although there is quite literally no way to mess this one up. Repeat as necessary.


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