Why do I always do this to myself?
Why do I always manage to get myself properly drunk the night before flying? I hate flying, or travel days in general, hung-over. To top it off we had to be up at 3 am to fly out of Guatemala City.
Back to the fun part of the night and poor decisions!
We had heard of a bar with a refrigerator door for… well … a door. It was also rumored to serve a unique liquor… so why not wait until our last night in town to find this magical bar?
Needless to say we found it, and even with the hungover travel day I am super glad we went.
As I pull the handle of the antique, olive green, 1960′s fridge door, it reveals a sub 4 foot opening in the brick wall separating the two rooms in the bar. The only light in the room comes from the many candles lit, giving a warm, yet mysterious glow to everything and the patrons.
The reason we are all in this small dimly light space is one thing: Mezcal
Before you ask your self “What the hell is Mezcal” or “Now what crazy shit is Adam about to drink now” let me tell you the answer to both. Mezcal is the older, once forgotten about, but now hipper brother to Tequila. Made from the type of agave, Mezcal is made the way they did it before tequila got popular and started being mass produced.
As explained by our bartender, who is an expat / hooch runner / now semi-ligament Mezcal distributor, the process is a long one and very labor intense. It starts with a select agave which is then grow until perfection (about 12 years!), harvested, then milled by means of a donkey pulling a custom apparatus, and if that’s not unique enough the real flavor difference is that the fermentation is done au natural, with only wild yeasts to turn the sugars into alcohol. The fermentation is said to take several months to a year before the base of the mescal is ready to be distilled.
Distilling then takes the ‘mash’, a crude, thick, liquid with strength similar to wine, to a spirit at around 80 proof. The final product is unique, you can taste some of the some characteristics as tequila, but with different and complex flavors. If you like whiskeys and other aged spirits then go for the Anejo. As its name in Spanish suggests, it is aged in wood barrels for several years before bottling.
Now that you know about Mezcal, try and find some before your friends know about it. It’s not for everyone, but if you like good tequila or just like to try new things, its for you. Apparently it’s is starting to become available in the US and parts of Europe.
If I got any accounts of the process wrong about the making of Mezcal please correct me, bear in mind I was drinking while learning. Or better yet go get your own lesson while in Antigua. Ask around for the Mezcal bar, or Café No Sé.