So, what exactly is mezcal?
Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant, a succulent which is typically large and spiky. The agave’s piñas are trimmed, roasted, and ground before being placed into wooden fermentation tanks and later distilled at least twice through copper stills or clay pots.
Traditionally, the spirit hails from Oaxaca, although there are other regions it is found. There are copious amounts of agave varietals with different flavors that can be used to make mezcal. The combination of the terroir (soil, topography, and climate), type of still used, and producer results in near-infinite combinations. “Most people expect smokiness and dark, earthy notes,” says Billy Hankey, owner of King Bee Lounge and former lead barman of Second Bar + Kitchen, “but that there are so many varietals of mezcal that flavors can range from bright and herbaceous to funky... like blue cheese funky.”