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How to Drink Mezcal Properly: Expert Guide (2023 Updated)

How to Drink Mezcal 

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Mezcal is gaining popularity worldwide for its distinct smokiness, natural congeners, and essence of drinking a handcrafted spirit.

It has similar roots to tequila, but these agave spirits can be enjoyed in different ways.  

If you want to know how to drink Mezcal and maximize your experience, keep reading.

7 Ways To Drink Mezcal Like A Pro (According to Experts) 

pouring mezcal on a glass

1. Choose Traditional Mezcal Glasses

While we’re used to using a “shot glass” with sipping Mezcal, we suggest using the traditional Mezcal glasses– a short stout with a broad opening. 

Some of these drink glasses are made with black clay from Oaxaca, and we don’t recommend using this as it’s naturally finished and shouldn’t be in contact with water.

Use glasses made with dried jicara or calabash. 

In Oaxaca, people guzzle over the cross, and that’s the tradition that originated from the country’s Catholic heritage.

When it comes to drinking Mezcal, the goal is to have the aromas hang out around you and recognize each note.

But this can be hard to do since all the scents are released simultaneously as you pour the liquid.

There’s no problem with spirits aged in wood, as the drink’s elements balance its profile.

However, for unaged Mezcal, it’s best to have it in a bowl-like vessel such as a copita.

2. Start With A Mezcal Papalote Or Espadin 

Now you have the glass ready, pick the bottle of Mezcal you’ll want to sniff.  

According to experts, start with a Papalote or Espadin, native agave spirits from the Lower Guerrro mountain and Oaxaca central valleys (in Mexico), respectively. 

Particularly, Espadin is widely accessible at bars, loved by many drinkers for its neutral flavor profile: pleasant aroma, delicious palate, and smooth finish—delivering different flavors Mezcals can have.  

3. Taste The Same Type Of Mezcal Across Or Even Regions

Hand Holding Glass of Mezcal

As Aleks Medina claims, any Mezcal drink should try the same Mezcal brands or cocktails across different regions. 

“All the agaves have different expressions, and the regions where they reproduce also bring different flavors.”

— Aleks Medina, Sabina Sabe Bar Manager in Oaxaca, Mexico

Drinking Mezcal in various places can get you to experience the diversity of flavors.

Like wine, Mezcal (and tequila), climate, soil type, elevation, and the agave plants used impact Mezcals’ tasting notes (flavors, aromas). 

4. Look For Mezcals With High ABV

It’s required that Mezcal be distilled [1] at least twice to achieve a minimum alcohol level of 36-55%. 

The range from 45-55% of alcohol is where the drink has enough alcohol to develop its aromas and flavors. 

Actually, most of these drinks in the US are below this benchmark, which is around 40-43% ABV. 

While some brands at the lower end of this range provide great quality without losing any flavor, we recommend smokier Mezcals, like Rey Campero Espadin, Real Minero Largo, and Jabali. 

5. Chill The Glass, Pour Mezcal & Sip It

Mezcal on a Shot Glass

One way to fully savor an agave plant-based spirit, like Mezcal and tequila, is chilling the glass before pouring the liquid. 

But, of course, you sip it clean to entirely enjoy its flavor and taste. Have a small sip (with a bit of water, if preferred) to cleanse your palate and quench your thirst. 

6. Choose How It’s Served

Neat

As mentioned, drinking Mezcal neat is the best way to enjoy this spirit, as most drinkers do with gin. 

Try sipping it neat if you want to experience the smoky, vegetal, and fruit notes with some roasted agave hints of Mezcal. 

Creative Cocktails

If your taste buds aren’t used to drinking this aclohol, you better mix them with other beverages to make Mezcal cocktails. 

You can make Margarita with Mezcal [2], which can be a starting point for beginners. 

Shots

Like other liquor types, you can have Mezcal as a shot, like when you’re enjoying tequila. This goes well with salt and lemon, as well. 

On The Rocks

If you don’t want this drink in a cocktail but want to enjoy it chilled, then have it on the rocks. 

Adding ice spices up your experience without any ingredient overpowering the agave notes. 

7. Drink It With Mixers

2 glasses of Mezcal Margarita

The same as in a cocktail, you can enjoy Mezcal on its own but with a mixer on the side or chaser. We recommend the following: 

Orange

Be it orange juice or orange fruit, this alcohol tastes great, along with citrus notes. The sweet and sour notes of orange slight tone down the bitter hints of Mezcal.  

Lime

This mixer is usually paired with Mezcal and tequila with salt. Whether you want the lime juice or half wheel, you’ll surely be left wanting more. 

Salt 

As mentioned above, this drink goes well with salt. It balances Mezcal’s bitter, fruity, and earthy notes, especially if there’s a lemon or any citrus-tasting food.  

How Do You Drink Mezcals With a Worm? 

While you can enjoy one with a worm if you’re brave enough, we don’t recommend drinking a bottle with worms. 

If you want to consume Mezcal the traditional way, try worm salt or sal de gusano instead. Some locals in Mexico serve worm salt fried and served with tacos along with the distilled drink. 

Popular Opinion: There is no clear explanation for how the worm trend started. Some believe it was a marketing technique used to show that Mezcal is fit to drink, while others think it was a way to impart flavor. 

FAQs 

Is Mezcal a sipping drink?

Yes. Mezcal is a sipping spirit, and it’s best enjoyed neat. But Mezcal cocktails also taste great.  

Do you drink mezcals on the rocks?

You can drink Mezcal on the rocks, depending on your preference. You can also mix it with a cocktail if desired. 

What is the proper way to drink Mezcal?

The proper way to drink and consume Mezcal is neat. Particularly, for an unaged spirit like Mezcal, it’s best to enjoy it neat in a copita or traditional Mezcal glasses. 

Can you drink Mezcal by itself?

You can toss Mezcal by itself, which is the most recommended and traditional way of enjoying this smoky spirit. 

Final Words 

With all the ways to enjoy any Mezcal brand – sipping it neat can give the most satisfying and great experience.

Not just because it’s the locals and traditional way of consuming this alcohol, but it’s the best way to savor Mezcal’s pure and delicious character.  

If this is your first time trying this liquor, then you don’t want to make your “first mistake” by not maximizing the potential of Mezcals.  

References:

  1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2022.832532/full
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/mezcal
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