How to Drink Mezcal with Eduardo Gomez, Founder of the Tequila & Mezcal Fest

How to Drink Mezcal with Eduardo Gomez, Founder of the Tequila & Mezcal Fest
How to Drink Mezcal with Eduardo Gomez

It’s made in nine different states of Mexico from over 30 different agave species and each different agave species in each different state tastes different. Thank goodness, our guest is here to teach us how to drink Mezcal.

Eduardo Gomez is not only the Director of Mexgrocer, the place to find the widest range of authentic Mexican groceries and ingredients in the UK and Europe, but also the Founder of the Tequila & Mezcal Fest and co-creator of Ojo de Dios Mezcal. If he doesn’t know mezcal, no one does.

He’s here to give us a beginner’s tour of the other agave spirit!

In this episode, you’ll discover:

Mezcal Tommy’s

Mezcal Tommy’s

Ingredients

  • 60ml Mezcal
  • 30ml Lime juice
  • 15ml Agave syrup

Instructions

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a shaker
  2. Add ice
  3. Shake, shake, shake
  4. Pour into a rocks glass with ice

Made this cocktail?

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Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Eduardo. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!

This transcript is sponsored by:

Susan:  Eduardo, it’s so lovely to have you on the show. You are the first person to talk about mezcal. And I’m really excited because I adore mezcal. Both tequila and mezcal, I love! So why don’t you introduce yourself and how you fell into mezcal?

Eduardo: Yes. Thank you very much. Thanks for the invite. First of all, my name is Eduardo Gomez. I’m originally from Mexico City and I came to the UK in 2003 as a summer holiday, actually, and my mom is still asking me, it was a holiday? I’m still here.

Susan: I love that the Mexican comes to the UK for the summer. It’s supposed to be the reverse. No?

Eduardo: Well, it was summer which is not as cold as in winter. So, for us, it’s not that bad. But back in the day, summer was not too bad. So, my name is Eduardo once again, and I been selling and importing tequila and mezcal for a long time, and I have my own mezcal brand.

Susan: How did you even start with mezcal? You weren’t just born in Mexico, came over here and that was it? We need to hear a little bit more about you.

Eduardo: Of course, well actually it happened by accident. I came for holidays. I’m a lawyer, originally a criminal lawyer in Mexico. I was working for the Mexican prosecution office, dealing with murders and kidnappers and so on. It was a very strong and powerful environment I used to deal with. When I came to the UK, I came to improve my English for a summer holiday, and I had the opportunity to join the Mexican Embassy. I worked for the Mexican Embassy in the Consular section for six months.

Then in one of those events of the MSC, I met the people from Corona Beer, the Mexican lager, right? The most popular Mexican beer. They invited me to work with them, to collaborate with them in the promotion team. I started working with Corona, doing promotions. I’m talking about six months later. So, I stayed another six months. I was having fun. Why not?

Then they offered me a full-time job and when I noticed, it was five years and then 10 years. I worked for Corona Extra for 10 years until they sold it to Anheuser-Busch

Budweiser. We lost our jobs during that time. I did an MBA in London. So, I thought, well, I have to do something while I’m here. Either I do a Master’s in law, or I do something different. To do a Master’s in law was very difficult because I needed pretty much to do the whole thing because common law and Mexican law are completely different.

I didn’t have time neither the energy to do it. So, I decided to do an MBA, to move into business management. When I finished with Corona, I had a master’s degree. I then joined Amathus Drinks, which is a drinks, wine and spirits importer and distributors, and they also have some shops. I was a brand manager for Amathus Drinks in charge of all the spirits from the American continent, so from cachaca in Brazil, the pisco from Peru, rum from Nicaragua, rum from Martinique, obviously the tequila, mezcal, bourbon from Kentucky. Obviously, I put a lot of attention and focus on tequila and mezcal.

Back in 2011, there were no artisanal mezcals in the UK. We were the first company, I was the first person, one of the first ones to start importing artisanal mezcal into the UK, because before that you could only find other brands with worms in it. I will not say the names, but you know the typical mezcal with a worm in it. I started importing mezcal and I fell in love with mezcal. You know what I mean?

When I was young, I used to go to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca every year. And I remember that traveling across Oaxaca, you know, crossing the mountains down to the beach. I remember seeing people in the road selling bottles of mezcal, like in an empty Coca Cola, plastic bottles, but back then we were like, no, no, no, we cannot drink that. We may get sick. How silly, because obviously I’m sure it was delicious, but we didn’t recognize the quality.

We didn’t know of much about mezcal, back, I’m talking about 20 years, 25 years ago. We were drinking well-known brands from America, but I tried mezcal back in the day. So, I know about mezcal for a long time. Obviously, tequila is a spirit that has always been in Mexico. I remember always seeing my dad or my family at family reunions, everybody drinking tequila when I was a child. It was quite easy to fall in love with a product such as mezcal, because mezcal is pretty much the liquid culture of Mexico. You know, mezcal is Mexico in a bottle.

Susan: Growing up with tequila, was there a certain brand, or did you know the local guy who made it? I mean, what was it like, I guess you were brought up in Mexico City. So, it’s a big city. Where were you finding the tequila? Before we head into the mezcal, let’s just talk about tequila for a second.

Eduardo:  Obviously the main brands, Don Julio, Cuervo 1900, Herradura, Siete Leguas, those brands that they’ve been in Mexico for many years. They are very popular, and they were always very popular. I mean, my dad’s favorite was Centenario from Casa Cordova. Whereas I remember one of my uncles, he loved his Don Julio Reposado. This was before Bacardi Brown-Forman bought Herradura and before Diageo bought Don Julio. We’re talking about when those brands were still Mexican owned, and family owned.

In Mexico, we have lots of wine and spirits’ shops in every corner. We like to drink in Mexico is a great and a huge business. So, it’s very easy to go to your local wine and spirits shop and it will be full of brands, from the well-known brands to the small producers. So, I remember seeing those brands in my house or in my family’s houses.

Susan: So, was it more a mixto that you were drinking? Or were you always, oh, it has to be a 100% agave? I mean, was there a kind of, not the snobbery, but just more of a knowledge even then about the difference in Mexico.

Eduardo: It was a 100% agave. The category or the CRT, the regulatory consul of tequila, created the mixto pretty much to cope with the demand in America. So, in Mexico, we drank 100% agave. There would be some mixtos in the supermarket, but we will know all the mixes went off to America.

Susan: Oh, those silly Americans are drinking that mixed stuff. We’re going to send that up north.

Eduardo: Even Blanco tequila, for instance, that is very popular nowadays in the US and in the UK. In Mexico, 70% of consumption of the tequila is Reposado. If you go to a house, to a reunion, you don’t bring a bottle of Tequila Blanco, nor do you spend too much on Anejo. Right? People always get a bottle of Reposado and also the Reposado is softer than Blanco. Right. And we drink it in Palomas, which is tequila reposado, lime juice, grapefruit soda and a bit of salt, that’s it?

Susan: One of my favorite drinks ever. But how about the margarita, would you be having the Reposado as well, or would that be Blanco?

Eduardo: To be honest with you, in Mexico City, and I guess everywhere in Mexico, outside the touristic areas. We don’t have the time or the patience to make the margarita. You have your bottle of tequila, you have your bottle of a squirt or Fresca, which is grapefruit and that’s it. You know, you build it up. Exactly.

You build that up the same way you do a Cuba Libre or the same way you do a Gin & Tonic. So, margaritas are very popular in, I guess, in the touristic areas. People at a barbacoa or a barbecue in Mexico, they will not have a shaker, or they will not be doing the margarita thing.

Susan: I love it. We’re going to get onto mezcal now, because that’s what we’re here to talk about. But do you remember the first time that you were that like, was it a lightning bolt moment, when you had the first mezcal and said, “Oh my God. Why haven’t I been drinking this all these years?

Eduardo: I mean, the very first time I drank mezcal was back in Mexican, Puerto Escondido that we bought from one of these guys. Obviously, at the time talking about 20 to 22 years ago, at the time, it was super complex. I mean, obviously, I was also 22 years younger, and I used to drink whatever any youngster used to drink. So, for me, it was super complex and very smokey because it was from Oaxaca. It was super powerful.

I remember that it was a bit of a shock because it was completely different to what I’m used to with tequila, with whiskey or with rum. I used to drink a lot of rum and whiskey back in the day, but then when I started working for Amathus Drinks and then I had the task of bringing mezcal to the UK, and then I tried some of the brands that now have been sold to multinational companies.

I was like, “Oh my God, this is quite something.” You know what I mean? It was really shocking to experience all these flavors in each bottle, because in the case of Alipus, for instance, it’s a single village, espadin mezcal. Four espadin mezcal from four different villages and each of them is completely different. The same thing with Del Maguey, the same thing with Pierde Almas, all those brands are imported into the UK many years ago. So yeah, it was definitely a shock.

Susan: All right, let’s go back for a sec. Why don’t you tell us exactly what mezcal is, for those who might not know really exactly how it’s made or where it’s made. So, give me a lowdown on the whole mezcal situation.

Eduardo: Right? Well, mezcal, the name mezcal comes from Nahuatl Mexcalli which means cooked agave. Before the Spaniards came to Mexico, or before we had distillation in Mexico, I say Spaniards because we were conquered by the Spanish, but they have found some Filipino still pots in Mexico, but let’s not get into that because then we are going to take hours.

Before distillation came to Mexico, native Mexicans used to drink a fermented juice from the agave plant. The agave plant is this beautiful, big plant that grows across Mexico. The fermented juices are called pulque. It comes to around 5 to 7% like beer. The name mezcal comes from the Nahuatl. Mezcal is an agave spirit made from any type of mezcal and that’s the best and the biggest difference with the tequila.

Susan: Wait, wait, wait. You said that mezcal is made from all different mezcals. You mean all different agaves, right?

Eduardo: Excuse me. Yes. All different agave plants. Whereas tequila is only made with one type of agave, which is called blue weber. With mezcal, you can use any type. And in Mexico, we have around 150 different varieties. Plus, mezcal is made in nine different states in Mexico. So, all the way from Oaxaca, up North to Durango.

Susan: So, you could, you could live your life drinking a different mezcal, like literally every day of your life.

Eduardo: I guess actually. I mean, I always say that mezcal is closer to wine than to anything else. In wine, you have different grape varieties which gives you different wine. A Chardonnay from Napa Valley is a completely different wine from a Chardonnay in South Africa or from Argentina.

It’s exactly the same way with mezcal, depending on the agave plant and depending on the climate conditions and the soil and the humidity of the land, the juice, this spirit that you’re going to get out of it will be completely different.

So, mezcal is an artisanal spirit made from the agave plant. That’s what mezcal is. In beer terms. I always put it this way, in beer terms, tequila is your Fosters or Stella and mezcal is your craft local beer.  That’s how I put it for people that don’t know about mezcal.

Susan: How do you even get your head around that? If I were going to start today? Okay. I want to learn everything about mezcal. What is the first type or first area? Where do you start?

Eduardo: All right. Well, almost 90%, maybe 85 to 90% of mezcal is produced in the state of Oaxaca in the South of Mexico. Out of that, 80% or 85%, maybe half of that is made from espadin agave. Espadin agave is the cousin or brother of the tequila blue weber, so a very similar looking type of agave. It’s called espadin because the leaves look like swords. Espada in Spanish is sword, this espadin. So, each leaf looks like a big sword.

That plant can be cultivated the same as tequila or the tequila blue weber. It’s easy for producers to cultivate espadin. If you go to Oaxaca, you go to Jalisco, you will see fields of agave espadin across the land, right. The blue agave for tequila – the plan is between five to seven years to mature.

Usually, tequila companies wait no more than five years for the agave to be mature. Some companies claim that they leave the agave for longer. In mezcal, espadin agave needs a minimum of seven years to mature before you can harvest, then you have different wild varieties. Varieties that take anything from 7 to 10, 15, 20, 25 years, the plant, to mature before you can harvest it.

How do you start? Espadin is the most common and the most popular and mezcals from Oaxaca are very popular. I know that around 95% of mezcals that you find in the UK, they come from Oaxaca and mezcal from Oaxaca is very smoky and spicy and peppery and sweet. So, once you are into mezcal, you will be able to recognize the espadin mezcals.

Susan: And so how would you drink it? So, say in Mexico, how are people drinking it in Mexico?

Eduardo: You go to Oaxaca, and you ask for mezcal and they will give you a little vasito.

Susan: Like this one right here?

Eduardo: Actually, the one that you have is even more traditional than this one. This one is quite pretentious. I will say

Susan: To be honest, you gave me this one. So, of course, it’s traditional and it’s filled with mezcal.

Eduardo: That little glass is actually a candle holder. Back in the day, people used to recycle those glasses from the churches and it’s the perfect size for a mezcal. It has a wide neck. It’s not like the typical tequila glass, the tequila shot, which is short and small. This one is more rounded, this a bit bigger, which is perfect for obviously drinking mezcal. You get better nose, it gets more oxygen, so, the alcohol and the flavors settle once it’s in the glass.

They also use in Mexico clay pots. In Oaxaca, they cook with clay. The problem with clay, little cups is that it absorbs some mezcal, right? The clay takes it. So, if you have a very expensive mezcal and then you sip it twice and then it’s empty, it’s very upsetting. It has happened to me many times. So, the best way to drink mezcal is always neat, straight up.

You don’t need to put any ice. It doesn’t need to be chilled, just room temperature, in one of those glasses. We were in Mexico and in the cantinas and restaurants, they always give you your glass in a plate with some orange wedges, and then they sprinkle some, even some salt, warm salt, or Tajin, chili and lime salt, on it. And then you sip your mezcal, bite the orange. Then you just have that beautiful experience. I want to serve myself a mezcal. since we are talking about it.

Susan: Now, what was its reputation way back when? Was it snobby? Like certain people drank mezcal, certain people drank tequila.

Eduardo: No, no, no, totally opposite. I mean the reputation of mezcal, until a few years, it was very bad. Mezcal was considered to be drunk by the lowest class in Mexico, by builders, because of some brands that unfortunately jeopardize and affected the name of mezcal.

There were many brands selling in plastic containers with the name of mezcal and people really associate those bad quality or poor-quality products with the name mezcal. Thankfully the CRT and the different producers came together and said, “Okay, well let’s just start from the beginning. And let’s really promote the category in a better way.”

Mezcal is a very premium, good quality spirit, and nowadays it’s actually one of the most expensive spirits, by value it’s higher than tequila. Right. It’s at the same level as whiskey. Back in the day it was very bad, sadly.

Susan: Now that’s certainly changed. We talked about just in Oaxaca. What other places in Mexico is it made or known and also the different flavor profiles that you might find in each area?

Eduardo: As I said, mezcal is made by domination of origin in 9 estates, so from Oaxaca in the South. You have Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, neighboring countries, Guanajuato, Michoacán, San Luís Potosí, Durango, and, basically, those estates are part of the dimension of region because it’s where the two mountain ranges of Mexico cross, the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental.

Agaves grow on those areas in that territory. So, all those nine estates are a part of it because agave grows in those areas. Now, when you are looking at flavor profile per agave, it’s really very difficult because there are too many. Espadin, as you can taste here in this delicious mezcal, Ojo de Dios 42%, espadin agave is usually sweet and spicy. Mezcal from Oaxaca, they smoke a lot. They’re usually very smoky or you get hints of smoke on the mezcals, but then when you move to Guerrero, for instance, they have another agave which is very popular. It’s called cupreata. That is very fruity. Every time I drink a mezcal from Guerrero I remember that chewing gum, Tutti Frutti bubble gum.

Susan: Of course!

Eduardo: Every time I drink that particular mezcal, I get those notes of Tutti Frutti, dried fruits, dried strawberries, dried berries, but then you have tobalá in Puebla and tobalá is very vegetal, you know, very green.

And then you move to San Luís Potosí, and they use these agaves called Salmiana,

and Salmiana actually is the agave that we used to make pulque. It’s a massive, massive, agave plant with leaves the size of your screen. It’s popularly called verde or green because the notes, when you drink or smell it, are like fresh jalapenos, spinach, kale, asparagus, you know, super, super green.

And then if you continue going up to the North to Durango, Durangensis, that’s very leathery, cinnamon rubber. You know what I mean? Every time I drink Durango mezcal, it reminds me of when you open a box of brand-new leather shoes or leather bag. When you open that box and you get this aroma of brand-new leather, that’s how it tastes and smells, the mezcal from Durango, for instance.

So, I invite your listeners to obviously try to sip and taste different mezcals from different agave plants in different states, because each one will be different.

Susan: Is everyone from all those areas drinking it the same way? Is it always neat, always in a little glass? What time of day? Is it a digestif, an aperitif, or an all-day kind of thing? Or anytime, should I say?

Eduardo: Yeah. It’s an any time drink, to be honest with you.

Susan: You’re thirsty. You have a mezcal.

Eduardo: We drink it as an aperitif to open the appetite, but it’s also great as a digestive because it settles down the rich Mexican food. When you have some tacos or when you have some mole or when you have some Cochinita pibil, pork pibil, which tend to be heavy and complex, right? Then you drink some mezcal to settle down. It is traditionally be drunk, neat in a little glass, but it’s also great for cocktails.

Susan: We’ll talk about the cocktails in a second, because I want to know more. So, you are now working at Amathus Drinks. When is the transition That you decide that you want to make your own mezcal?

Eduardo: So almost at the end of my time at Amathus Drinks, I saw the necessity of promoting the category of tequila and mezcal, you know, back then we already had the Rum Fest and the Gin Fest and the Whisky show, but there was not an event to promote tequila or mezcal.

So, I was like, I have to do it. It has to be me. I cannot let anybody else do it. So, I founded, I started the Tequila and Mezcal Fest in 2014 with the objective to educate the consumer and the trade and to promote the category of tequila and mezcal. Sadly 9 out of 10 people in the UK, if you mentioned tequila, they remembered those days at university.  You know, doing shots of the tequila, which surely wasn’t a 100% good quality tequila.

My objective was to promote tequila as it should be, you know, because we drink tequila, as people in this country drink whiskey or people in France drink Cognac or Armagnac. We needed to do an event to tell people that tequila and mezcal have to be respected the same way. It has to be drunk at this in the same way.

People don’t understand the process of making tequila or the process of making mezcal, all the years that you have to wait for the plan to be ready.

Susan: Especially back then.

Eduardo: Exactly. So, in 2014, we did the very first Tequila & Mezcal Fest and it was a success, and everybody loved it. I heard a lot of people saying, “Oh my God, this is unique. And I love it. I didn’t know all the hard work behind tequila.” I did it for five years, until the last lockdown, five years, seven festivals, five in London, one in Liverpool and one in Belgium. More than 10,000 people came to the festival across the seven festivals, more than hundred brands involved.

I think that is there is a before and after the Tequila and Mezcal Fest, because obviously people liked it. We were in the Financial Times; we were in The Guardian; people were talking about tequila. Obviously, it’s not only me. There were lots of people doing a lot of work, the brands themselves, I mean the big brands have invested a lot of money on promoting properly tequila and mezcal.

After the first festival, I joined my business partner now, Katia. She had an online shop of Mexican food, Mexgrocer.co.uk. She came and we had a quick chat. I joined Mexgrocer and we are now the biggest importers of authentic Mexican food. I import tequila. I import mezcal. I import a lot of foods from Mexico, but I also sell it on my website.

We have a beautiful big range of tequilas and mezcals. Then almost three years ago, I was at the Edition Hotel in London having a mezcal with a couple of friends, and then they were, “Listen, we want to do mezcal, why don’t you help us?”

I was like, “You know what? Let’s do it together. Because I had, in my mind, for many years to build, to create a mezcal brand. I will be all interested if we do it together, if I’m part of it.” And we were like, “Okay, let’s do it.” So, we started talking three years ago. And that’s how we came up with this brand.

Susan: So, there are nine regions where they make mezcal. Where do you start? Did you just kind of have a map and close your eyes and point to one, or was there one type of mezcal that you loved so much that you wanted to recreate it?

Eduardo: To be honest with you, through my years in Mexgrocer and Amathus before and my relationship with the Mexican embassy, I had been invited to different trade shows in Mexico. The Mexican government used to take me every year to Mexico to meet producers. So, I had the opportunity to go. I went three times to Oaxaca invited by the government and on those trips, I met maybe 70 producers.

They organize this big event where you have a table and someone to assist you. It’s like speed dating. Suddenly every 15 minutes, you have a new producer and they come to you, and you have a timer. They present the brand and then they go, and they present the brand and then they go.

So, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of producers, a lot of companies. My mezcal is from Oaxaca, just because Oaxaca right now is the state where it’s more developed in terms of making the mezcal. The CRM, Consejo Regulador del Mezcal, is based in Oaxaca. Mexico is huge. When you produce from in the North in Durango, which is delicious, and I’m sure I want to have, at some point, a mezcal that comes from Durango in the North, it’s really difficult to have the certificates and to have someone to taste.

Believe it or not, people don’t know, but to be able to have mezcal on the label and to be certified and to have to have the hologram, each product needs to go through a very strict regulation from laboratory analyses, et cetera, et cetera.

Oaxaca is just more convenient, and I knew lots of contacts and I had already some people. I knew already some people where I liked their mezcal. So, it was just about sitting down with them again. I went just with the person who clicked the best. Sometimes in life and in business, it’s all about the feeling.

So, my mezcal is from Oaxaca, the two that I have right now. That was because of the experience of those multiple trips that I did to Oaxaca for business.

Susan: Did you know the flavor that you wanted to have immediately? Was it difficult to get that or were they already producing it?

Eduardo: No, we worked on a formula, but I knew what exactly I wanted. I wanted an easy to drink espadin for everyone, for non-mezcal drinkers, for non-tequila drinkers, for cocktails, a product that is affordable for a restaurant or bar to use in cocktails and for someone to have it at home. The problem is that mezcal is that is very expensive.

It’s a problem because only few people get into that. If you like mezcal and then you see a bottle of £80 or £100, you know that that bottle is worth it. If don’t know mezcal, then you will be like, excuse me, £50, £80, £100. I don’t want to spend that money for something I don’t know. I’d rather buy a whiskey that I know.

Susan: Right. Of course, if you’ve never tasted it before, you’re not going to plunk down £100 on something that you’re going to take a chance.

Eduardo: Exactly. I think, in my opinion, that’s one of the biggest problems of mezcal right now in the UK, which for many, or for those that don’t know about mezcal is too much money.

What I knew is I wanted a product at 42% ABV because mezcal can be actually, you’ll find some mezcals in the market at 45, 48, 49, 50% ABV. I wanted a 42% because 40 will be too weak. I have tried mezcals at 40%, and I think you lose the complexity or 38 you lose complexity. Mine is smoky, but not too smoky, sweet, but not too sweet. easy to drink. You’re drinking it. You tell me how you feel it.

Susan: Yeah. I love, I love mezcal. I love anything made from an agave. The flavor to me is so wonderful. It’s so easy to drink. I think they’re the easiest spirits to drink for me. I don’t feel like I’m drinking alcohol because they’re so smooth. How long did it take you to get that perfect equation?

Eduardo: Two trips. I went first.

Susan: And that’s it?

Eduardo: I had everything in my mind, you know, so I went first to meet with four different producers. After that trip, I had chosen one. Then we started talking about exactly what I wanted.

We played around. He said, okay, I will send you some samples. He sent some samples over. I tasted with my team. We were like, Oh God, this is good. All right. Because it’s one thing for someone to drink it in Oaxaca at 25 degrees, you know, in front of the cathedral, drinking, having some mole. To drink it in the UK when it’s grey and miserable, I wanted to have the same feeling and same experience there and here when I drink in it. So, he sent the samples. We loved it.

It’s a mezcal that uses agaves that has been matured for seven years, cooked in the ground, using a specific wood naturally fermented in wooden taps for a week or two, depending on the season, obviously. We use the tahona to grind the agaves slowly, you know, we have our own burro or donkey called Chicerito. And then we distil twice in small copper still pots, that’s it. And that’s it. Nothing else.

Susan: Why did you call it Ojo de Dios?

Eduardo: If you look up the bottle, it comes from the Huichol which is an indigenous group in Mexico. Ojo de Dios or God’s Eye is a ritual tool that was used to protect those people while they are praying, some magical object. It’s an ancient cultural symbol. The Huichol art is super strong and beautiful. The idea of calling it Ojo de Dios is to encase and to promote this beautiful culture. Ojo de Dios is basically these little dots in the front. These people were there praying they have this symbol in different objects.

Susan: Like a third eye.

Eduardo: Exactly. They believe that is a protector in the Huichol culture, which means also the power to see and understand things unknown. It’s very powerful in that group, in the indigenous group.

We called it Ojo de Dios to promote this culture that I hope will last for many years. I know that it’s losing a lot of power because the new kids, the new generations of groups, they are now obviously living closer to the city or the city’s going closer to them. They’re losing their identity.

They’re losing the traditions and I hope it will not happen. We want eventually to add pieces of Huichol into our bottles, to promote and to help them because they live very humbly. The way they live is just making these pieces of art. Huichol art it’s called. If you Google it, you will find some beautiful art, I’m sure that you have seen them.

Susan: It’s very romantic. Now you held up a bottle that was black and you are making something with coffee, right? Mezcal and coffee. That is the other thing that I am drinking here. So why the mix of coffee? Why was that going to be your next thing?

Eduardo: Right. This is the premiere of this beautiful product, which is called ODD mezcal, ODD Cafe, we have to call it ODD because Ojo de Dios is difficult for people to pronounce. So, it’s made of mezcal, of cafe, which is basically my delicious 42% espadin agave mezcal blended and macerated with organic Arabica coffee beans from Oaxaca. This is the first coffee mezcal in the industry. It’s a mezcal because it’s 35%. It’s not a liqueur. To be a mezcal, you need to be 35 to 55% ABV. It’s just basically my mezcal, organic Arabica coffee beans from Oaxaca and a tiny bit of unrefined sugar cane sugar.

Susan: And how do you want this to be drunk?

Eduardo: Well, the way you have it in your glass, I’m going to pour myself some. So obviously if you smell it, loads of totally chocolatey, roasted coffee notes, bitterness, sweetness.

Susan: This would make the best espresso martini.

Eduardo: Exactly, exactly. It’s a beautiful digestive. It’s great for cooking, for desserts, I think in cocktails, we’ll do the best Espresso Martini. Not long ago a friend of mine made a Manhattan with this. So, I think it will be used in many cocktails. I think a couple of drops, 5ml, 10ml will enhance any of the classic cocktails. Three ingredients: mezcal, coffee, and a tiny bit of unrefined sugar cane.

Susan: It would be amazing with an affogato, a little bit over ice cream. Oh, man, that would be fabulous, but let’s also get back to the mezcal cocktails because mezcal was a sipping liquor, really? Do you see it as replacing tequila in cocktails? Would you’d take out the tequila put in the mezcal, or do you think it’s a whole different kind of cocktail when you use mezcal?

Eduardo: To be honest with you, it can easily replace the tequila. It does give a lot of complexity to cocktails. I love Tommy’s Margarita: tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, shake it, on the rocks, that’s it. If I do that same cocktail with mezcal, I just love it. I prefer a mezcal Tommy’s Margarita 100%. Now I’m not a gin drinker, but I love Negronis. So, I removed gin and I add my mezcal into a Negroni and it’s just delicious, you know?

I think people need to start playing around and replacing the gin and replacing the rum or replacing the tequila and adding some mezcal into it. They will be very surprised. The complexity of mezcal is just perfect for cocktails.

Susan: Fabulous. You’ve given me so many ideas.

Eduardo: I think that people need to give it a chance. If you will drink mezcal one day, just drink mezcal. If you go out, please do not drink mezcal after you have drunk two glasses of wine or a bottle of champagne, please just take your time and give yourself the opportunity to enjoy mezcal.

Mezcal, in my opinion, is just energy in a bottle. When I say energy –if you look at any of the spirits around, they are made from weak, raw materials, like sugar cane, like rice, like potatoes, like grapes. They are weak. Why? Because they grow or they harvest every six months, every 12 months. In mezcal, you have to wait 7, 10, 15, 20 years. The raw material is super powerful.

In my mind, in those plants under the Mexican sun and the Mexican rain, you’re getting all the energy from Mother Earth. Then you drink it slowly. You really get that energy into your body. Mezcal is a high. Usually alcohol is a depressant, you drink one or two glasses of wine, and you feel sleepy. If you drink more than one or two, then you get to get drunk. With mezcal, no!

With mezcal, you drink one little glass, and it immediately kicks up. It’s like gasoline. I mean, gasoline in the way that it gives you energy. Right? So, give a chance to mezcal properly. One day, buy yourself a bottle of mezcal. Remember to always read on the label, artisanal mezcal, because there are three classifications of mezcal, which I didn’t mention before.

You have mezcal industrial, you have artisanal mezcal, and you have ancestral mezcal, which follows different guidelines and different production methods. So always look on the bottle for artisanal or ancestral. If those words are on the label, then you are safe and also always look for the hologram and actually it has a QR code that you can scan.

It takes you to the distillery and tells you how it’s been made. That is just beautiful. Right? So, I always say that you don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you. Give it the opportunity and drink it properly with water, sip it, water, make a nice cocktail, water, sip it, and you will get the most beautiful high, you will be in this beautiful feeling and the day after you will wake up with no hangover whatsoever, feeling great. That’s why I love mezcal and why I drink mezcal, because I can drink it and the day after I will feel just like nothing happened.

Susan: Now I always end by asking people if they could drink anything anywhere, what would that be? Now for you, I’m going to change it slightly because I know what you would drink, but maybe if you could tell me where you would drink it, if there some places that you really love. Maybe some mezcalerias in London or in Mexico, a few places that you’d love to drink your mezcal.

Eduardo: I would drink it at El Ganzo Hotel in Los Cabos. I mean, I would love to be right now at the El Ganzo Hotel in Los Cabos, drinking that Tommy’s Mezcal Margarita. If it’s not in Mexico and I’m in London, it could be in any of the good Mexican restaurants like Chingón, Santo Remedio, having a Tommy’s Mezcal Margarita.

Susan: Well, cheers to that. I’m going to be drinking it right here in my house. Very happy…with you. Cheers. Thank you so much for introducing mezcal to all of us. It was really a lesson and I’ve learned so much and I can’t wait to try all the different regions and all the different mezcal.

Eduardo: No, thank you, Susan. Thank you for the invite. It was a beautiful experience and very happy to be involved. Thank you very much.

Susan: It was great to have Eduardo on the program teaching us all about Mezcal and Ojo de Dios mezcal in particular. I know I can’t wait to start trying it from each different Mexican state.

If you want to try sipping mezcal and live in the UK, you can find a large selection at SpiritsKiosk.com and get 10% off using my code: ALushLife10SK.

If you live in the USA: You can find mezcal at Drizly.com and get $5 Off Your Order of $20+ using code ALUSHLIFE5

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