First stop up on this round of Oaxacan adventures – Puerto Escondido. An actual vacation and a whole week at the beach with friends from San Francisco and Oaxaca. Micheladas, fresh grilled fish, shrimp, oysters, Lila Downs at the Mazunte Jazz Festival – what more could a person ask for?
Alas, the only thing missing was mezcal, or to be more specific, mezcal that I like (remember – there is no bad mezcal, just mezcal you don’t like.) If you like cremas, flavored and deeply smoke infused mezcals, well, you are in luck.
We went through the bottle that fellow Mezcalista Ana brought from Oaxaca in two days. It was a hearty and flavorful espadin from Reunion de los Palenqueros and was the perfect accompaniment to Lila Downs singing her heart out before the throngs who had journeyed to see her.
It is not surprising that Puerto Escondido is bereft of a selection of mezcal – not much is produced on the coast, it is hot, and it caters to very specific beach tourist more interested in cheap beer and big waves. There is one spot – Barfly – at the far end of Zicatela that had a few mezcals, plus some tasty cocktails. Ordering the mezcals, and asking questions about them, however, was an exercise in complete frustration as the waiter assumed Ana and I were idiots and therefore had to have everything explained in the most basic terms:
Where is this mezcal from?
Es de Mexico, de Oaxaca.
What kind of maguey is it, is it Mexicano?
Si, es de Mexico, es de agave.
And on and on it went until we finally were able to get that it was in fact from Guerrero and was an espadin with an incredibly sweet and earthy flavor. We also had a few Alipus (San Luis is the most popular on the coast it seems) and Real Matlatl (espadin, tobala.)
But mainly, aside from the Barfly foray, we stuck with beer, and that was fine.