How to drink Mezcal

7 Tips on how to drink Mezcal the right way

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 1, 2022 
Mezcal is a complex and bold spirit. If you're an avid Tequila sipper and confronted for the first time with a Mezcal, you might be irritated by the bold and smoky flavors. And that's alright because the spirit is different from Tequila and should be consumed differently. And here you can read how. Following are our seven tips on how to drink Mezcal.

When drinking Mezcal, you need to know a few things to understand what you're having in front of you. Its flavor strongly depends on the agave used, the area where the plant grew, how long the spirit aged, and the production method. You can find most of this information on the label of a Mezcal bottle. If you are unsure about the descriptions, check out our article about the different types of Mezcal.

But there are more things to consider when you drink Mezcal.

Start with Espadín

If you're new to Mezcal, you don't want to overspend and buy one of the expensive bottles. Start with a solid Espadín Mezcal. Espadín stands for the variety of agave used for producing the spirit. There are many different agave varieties, and sometimes Mezcal contains a mix of multiple types.

Around 85% of all Mezcals produced are made from the Espadín agave. Therefore, there are plenty of options, often at reasonable price points. As I mentioned, the taste not only depends on the agave but also on other aspects. So already within Espadín, you can find a wide range of flavors.

Use a copita or jicara

Once you have picked a Mezcal, choose your drinking vessel. A standard shot glass will do, but to fully pick up the complex flavors and aromas, better opt for a traditional copita or jicara. The small cups are the traditional way to consume Mezcal and come in various forms and materials. It can be from clay, ceramic, glass, and many others.

The most important aspect of the copitas is their wide opening. This way, your nose is close to the spirit, and you can smell the different aromas while sipping. That also immensely affects the taste and experience.

And in Oaxaca, you can also find another typical vessel: the so-called jicara or jicarita cup. Jicaras are made from the shell of the Calabash tree. So they're unique and available in different sizes naturally. Usually, they're 1.5 inches deep and 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Drinking Mezcal out of a jicara is a must if you have the chance to do it.

Traditional Jicara cups

The only problem is that those cups are not that robust. So if you plan to buy a copita or jicara for drinking Mezcal at home, probably choose a copita.

Drink it neat and at room temperature

The best way to serve Mezcal is neat and at room temperature. Like that, the spirit can unfold its entire flavor profile, and you can enjoy the array of different notes. To explain this: just like other sipping spirits like Bourbon or aged Rum, Mezcal contains natural congeners. Those are responsible for bringing the flavor, and they work best at room temperature. If you refrigerate your Mezcal, the congeners will dull and only come back to life when the spirit warms up. So don't put your Mezcal in the fridge.

And you also don't add ice or water to the spirit. So, please don't serve Mezcal on the rocks. Just drink it neat. If, at all, you need something to accompany your Mezcal, enjoy the traditional snacks served with it.

Snacks dusted with Sal de Gusano

In Mexico, particularly in Oaxaca, you often get a small plate with some kinds of snacks to go with your Mezcal. Usually, oranges, grapefruit, jicama, and carrots. And those snacks come dusted with a special salt - the Sal de Gusano.

Sal de Gusano is also known as the worm salt. Gusanos del maguey is the name of the worm living in the agave plants. Sal de Gusano is made by mixing regular salt with ground chiles and dried ground larvae of that worm.

That may sound strange, but I can assure you it pairs just perfectly with the smoky agave spirit.

Choose the right level of smoke

Mezcal is famous for its smoky taste. That reputation is due to especially beginners being overwhelmed by the smokiness. But Mezcal is much more complex, and also, the level of smoke varies a lot.

You can get bottles with just a smoky note and others that are in-your-face with their super high level of smokiness. If you're a fan of the smoky taste, try the Montelobos Mezcal Joven. And if you want to start low on smoke El Silencio Espadín.

Sip don't shoot

Tequila is often consumed as a shot. And since many correctly compare Tequila to Mezcal, Mezcal shots are also becoming more common. But this spirit is supposed to be slowly sipped. One sip at a time.

Try to drink Mezcal in cocktails

If you already love to drink Mezcal neat, using it in cocktails is a fantastic idea. A Mezcal cocktail often is a riff on a Tequila cocktail. You only have to substitute the one with the other. However, Mezcal can be more than just a Tequila replacement. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing bad about a delicious Mezcal Margarita or Mezcal Paloma. But limiting it to this doesn't do it justice.

My favorite Mezcal cocktails right now are probably the Mezcal Sour and Mezcal Negroni. Our Mezcal Sour recipe is a unique take on a sour cocktail based on the smoky agave spirit. With the help of Italian Amaro, the Mezcal creates a rich and complex flavor profile.

In a Mezcal Negroni, Mezcal replaces Gin. And even though that might sound a bit off, a Mezcal Negroni is a real treat for lovers of Negroni and Mezcal alike.

If you're more into Old Fashioned, you can also check out our take on a Mezcal Old Fashioned. The closest to drinking Mezcal straight without actually doing so.

How to Drink Mezcal Faqs

How to store Mezcal?

Like with other spirits, you can increase the shelf life of a Mezcal by storing it in a cool, dark, and dry place. -Not the fridge or the freezer, though, because that will spoil the taste.

How to drink Mezcal straight?

It's best to serve Mezcal neat at room temperature in a copita. Serve it along with a slice of orange dusted with worm salt.

Subscribe to Cocktail Society!

Receive our latest recipes, reviews, and insights - straight to your inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts

How to drink Shochu - a guide

The 8 ways to drink Shochu

Read More
Best Shochu to try

Best Shochu to try in 2022

Read More
How to drink Absinthe

How to drink Absinthe

Read More
Guide to 151 Rum

A Quick Guide on 151 Rum

Read More
Pisco

Pisco - a complete guide to the South American liquor

Read More
Best Tequila for Margaritas

The 12 Best Tequila for Margaritas

Read More
Privacy PolicyContactAbout us
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.