It is dusk in Oaxaca and after a well-spent hour sipping local mezcals in the Mezcaloteca Bar, I saunter out into the narrow, cobblestone streets, belly warm, only to be swept up by a candle lit, musical parade of unfathomable local enthusiasm. Horns blast and women in colorful skirts spin onwards in percussive progression to the town square where other equally exuberant processions merge into a carnival of hundreds gathering under a full moon at the base of the vendor-lined town square and the beautiful La Iglesia de Santo Domingo.
It is an unrivaled and unexpected experience of mezcal-fueled enthusiasm unique to the spirited, historic city of Oaxaca, Mexico. Nestled in the Sierras in central Mexico, Oaxaca is a city with a rich cultural history and incomparable culinary scene deeply intertwined with mezcal, an agave-based liquor made only in Oaxaca.
“Oaxaca gives context to mezcal and mezcal gives context to Oaxaca,” says Fausto Zapata, owner of El Silencio, a small batch mezcal made in Oaxaca and found across the United States. “Oaxaca is the creator of mezcal and happens to be just as magical as the spirit itself.”