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Meet Mezcal, Tequila's smoky cousin


We are pleased to introduce our new correspondent on the ground Buzz Komil – this is his first piece for Mezcalistas…

So, there’s this amazing new spirit out of Mexico called mezcal. It’s kind of like tequila, but not really. It’s smoky, and mysterious, like that cousin you once heard of, you know, the one who lived out in the middle of nowhere and whose idea of a pimped ride was a donkey pulling a stone wheel.

I discovered mezcal the fall of 2015 when I was hitchhiking my way through southern Mexico. I had just finished this 6 week cleanse and met my spirit animal while tripping on Ayahuasca. Afterward, someone handed me a bottle and I took a swig and I was like, yes, this shit, this is the shit. It was complex, and smoky and I thought, wow, this could go with everything. And so I concocted the following cocktail made from all local ingredients found on the eastern side of the Sierra Sur mountains. I foraged them all myself and call the drink, Oaxacan Spitfire.

  • 1.5oz traditional, ancestral straight from the still mezcal. The rarer and more unheard of agave plant the better
  • One part fresh squeezed mountain fruits
  • Two  yellowing leaves – any leaves as long as they are on the ground
  • One chile, grown in rocky soil above 4000m, harvested in October and dried in the sun until the Winter solstice
  • One tear drop (this is so beautiful you can’t help but cry)
  • Three beads of sweat from the donkey
  • Five beads of sweat from the Palenquero (this is the guy who makes the mezcal completely by hand and it is hard work.)

Macerate the leaves with the sweat of donkey and Palenquero, the chile, and squeezed fruit. Slowly stir in the mezcal and repeat the following words (para todo mal mezcal y para todo bien tambien.) Sip, do not shoot.

I used to drink tequila, but now, well, it is just so everyman, or The Man. Mezcal tastes like a fuck you with every sip and I channel my inner Sid Vicious, no I mean Henry Rollins, because Sid is so tequila and Henry, well, he’s mother fucking mezcal.

So here’s the thing, after drinking mezcal, and visiting a palenque (that’s where they make mezcal from scratch, no electricity, no machines, and a fire made from striking stone against stone. DIY extreme) for a couple of hours, I decided I would make mezcal. Into the fields, cutting agave by hand, dragging it back, crushing it with a river stone, fermenting it in my back pack, and then distilling it in these old clay barrels – only 10 liters but so chewy. I am starting my own brand, El Rey de Sweat Equity, and will only be selling it to select places. It’s sustainable and I give everything back to the community. And with the strong dollar, it’s super economical – these guys love to work, the harder, the better!

You want to understand spirituality? Drink mezcal. You need to learn Spanish, fast? Drink mezcal. You want to understand your smoky Mexican cousin? Drink mezcal. Just do it.



Susan Coss is the Co-founder of Mezcalistas. She is a long time business, marketing and communications strategist in the sustainable food and beverage worlds. Over the past 15 years, Susan's work has focused on promoting the connection between land, farmers and food and beverage crafters.

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