Mezcal and the Magic of Oaxaca, Mexico


 
 
 
 

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.”

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The cobblestone streets of downtown Oaxaca are lined with Mezcalerias. These are small, usually family-owned bars like the Mezcaloteca Bar where my evening began. The proprietors of these Mezcalerias swell with pride for their regional spirit and often serve their family’s own brand; a method of preparation that might go back more than a century. In addition to the intimate experience at Mezcaloteca, be sure to hit up Mezcalogia, In SituTxalaparta Bar and El Distilado. Each offer a slightly different variation of regional flavors. The bartenders, often also the owners, will share with you their spirit’s rich history and will guide you towards finding a mezcal to fit your taste. Bartenders have a robust knowledge of the flavors and textures of the mezcal they pour and rarely is there anything but mezcal on the drink menu. In fact, order a vodka soda, or worse a tequila, and you might find your Oaxaca experience at said Mezcaleria abruptly ended.

Mezcal is certainly one of Oaxaca’s most defining cultural characteristics but the smoky intoxicant is far from the only reason to visit Oaxaca.To sustain a full day in Oaxaca, one must augment Mezcal-tasting with other experiences and activities, of which there are many.

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Continue reading at "The Manual" --Mezcal and the Magic of Oaxaca Mexico