Mexico’s *other* distilled spirit is the perfect Cinco de Mayo drink

cinco de mayo cocktail

This Cinco de Mayo, try subbing tequila for mezcal.

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On Cinco de Mayo, agave spirits are poured with enthusiasm. But the vast majority of those celebratory drinks involve a bottle of tequila, not a bottle of mezcal.

Despite mezcal being Mexico’s most artisanal and most ancient distilled product, it’s not universally embraced — a result of many people making improper assumptions that all mezcal is inherently smoky.

On the contrary, some producers, such as Mezcal Amarás, craft elegant spirits where any presence of smoke more accurately takes the form of a sweet, roasted character, which is reflective of how the agave plants are cooked before distillation.

With its Logia Line of spirits (Azul, Sacatoro and Mexicano, detailed below) Amarás also approaches mezcal production with a winemaker’s mentality, selecting and harvesting agave plants only when they’ve reached their peak maturity.

Azul, made from 8-year-old blue weber agave (the same species used to make tequila), marries aromas of papaya and jalapeno, along with flavors of green pepper, soft citrus, and white flowers. Sacatoro, by contrast, showcases 10-year-old wild agave sourced from the mountains of Guerrero and delivers a complex assemblage of flavors and aromas that includes leather, toasted peanuts, figs, and ripe mango. Then there’s Mexicano, which delivers a mixture of black pepper and ripe pineapple aromas on the nose, with distinctive blackberry and more black pepper flavors on the palate.

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If you’re seeking something full-bodied and complex, Clase Azul’s Mezcal Guerrero is a great option. This crisp and sweet-smelling mezcal showcases the cupreata plant — a species known to be earthy and somewhat savory. As a result, this spirit is defined by flavors of honeysuckle and vanilla, though they transition to notes of citrus, pepper, and tobacco.

Finally, if you’re looking for a polarizing sip, seek out a bottle of Real Minero Marteno, which is distilled from karwinski agave, a species known for its low sugar content. That produces a mezcal that is boldly herbaceous and tannic, especially on the nose. One taste, however, will have you reconsidering your affinity for this Mexican spirit, as it drinks closer to a well-crafted blanco tequila, albeit one that is far more herbaceous. If you’re a fan of the bright “green” agave flavors found in many unaged, artisanal tequilas, this mezcal is for you.

So, as you prepare to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, consider swapping out traditional tequila in your cocktail and raising a mezcal-filled glass instead.

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