In the run up to Mezcal Week we had the great pleasure of partnering with Sombra Mezcal and The Mezcal Institute in launching the Sombra Mezcal Cocktail Contest Home Edition. The focus of the contest was on working with ingredients
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to talk to Richard Betts of Sombra Mezcal about the company's foray into making adobe bricks from mezcal by-product. The idea is pretty simple, use viñaza and bagasso from mezcal production to make adobe bricks. Of course simplicity is never easy, and after much trial and error, they created a solid blueprint that others could use.
It's something that most of us don't really think about when it comes to mezcal because we are so focused on the magic being made in the still, but with every liter of mezcal produced there are about ten liters of liquid waste produced. That's called the vinaza. In small production runs, it is seemingly manageable to dispose of. You can pour it in the river or the field and it will break down in weeks. If you add chemicals that process can be shortened to days. But as soon as you multiply production runs, suddenly it is a whole different proposition.
[caption id="attachment_6597" align="alignleft" width="240"] The Gracias a Dios lineup[/caption] I have to hand it to the guys at Gracias a Dios (GAD) or www.thankgad.com - that is one clever URL for the brand. I had a chance to visit their palenque - a two birds with one stone event so I could see my friend Norma and visit the palenque. She lives in Teotitlan and puts on some pretty incredible textile and culture tours. We set up a time to meet at the GAD palenque and get a special tour and tasting with Maestro Mezcalero Oscar Hernandez Santiago. Of course I got lost because my GPS disconnected and the directions sent us off in the complete opposite direction in Matatlan. Note to travelers - google maps is great and amazing, except of course when you have no phone reception which crazily enough, I didn't in Matatlan. The palenque is on the edge of town as you head south on 190. It is a beautiful piece of property and will eventually be a centerpiece of the new style of mezcal travels in Oaxaca - a bread and breakfast on palenque property. It is now available to book through Airbnb.
[caption id="attachment_5813" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Sombra's new palenque[/caption] Just when we start really digging into the different ways to unpack the new NOM-70, Sombra Mezcal founder Richard Betts published this incredible piece. It's a scoping piece of honesty and transparency from a mezcal brand. More than anything it's incredibly refreshing - if we all could engage on this level all of the time the world would be a much better place.
There has been a mini-mezcal bubble in cocktails lately because bartenders have awoken to its potential and because it's a good introduction to the distillate. It's a great backbone or compliment to a cocktail because of its body and complexity