How To

Mezcal 101

Mezcal 101

Sep 1, 2016

Allow us to introduce you to tequila’s smoky friend, mezcal. We chatted with Chef/Partner Terry Lynch of Stripburger and El Segundo Sol who demystifies this often underrated spirit and shares with us its origin and how you can enjoy it at home.

group shot of 4 mezcal based cocktails

Here’s the history:

Mezcal comes from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known for its soulful eats and is allegedly, the birthplace of mole. The city itself is authentic and wildly artistic, which makes mezcal the perfect expression of the culture. 

One technique indigenous to Mexican cooking is the charring of ingredients which achieves a smoky depth of flavor. That same charred flavor profile is one in the same with the smoky tasting notes of mezcal.

People often ask, what is the difference between mezcal and tequila?

The difference is in the method:

  1. It all begins with the agave plant from which mezcal and tequila both stem.
  2. When the plant is grown to its maturity (about 7 years) and looks like a large pineapple, it is trimmed to its core.
  3. In the tequila-making process, the leaves are roasted in huge ovens to caramelize the natural sugars.
  4. Artisanal mezcal uses a wood-fired underground pit — not an oven — to roast and caramelize the leaves. This allows the flavors of mezcal to be deeper and more smoky and rustic than tequila.

Mezcal Misconceptions

The number one misconception is that mezcal is not as approachable as tequila. But it is unique and wonderful — like an older, smokier, wiser brother to tequila!
 Stumped on where to find it? Chef Terry recommends checking out your local liquor store first and trying a few different mezcal options to see what you like.  With that said, El Buho and Del Maguey Vida are both good bets in distribution and price.

Want to give it a go? Here are four mezcal recipes from Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! and El Segundo Sol to mix up at home.

Oaxacan Mule – A traditional Moscow Mule with a twist of mezcal

oaxacan mule

Smoky Alban – Mix Cynar liquer with grapefruit for the smoky profile that mezcal is known for

Smoky Alban - Mix Cynar liquer with grapefruit for the smoky profile that mezcal is known for

Mango Mescalero – A little mango, a little chili pepper and a whole lot of flavor

 Mango Mescalero - A little mango, a little chili pepper and a whole lot of flavor

Mezcal Mule – Think Moscow Mule but with hints of cucumber, passion fruit and of course, mezcal


You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
Where to Eat Lunch
May 11, 2018

For that one hour escape from your office, you want to make sure to make most of your lunch hour.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
21 Dishes for Celiac Awareness Month
May 7, 2018

May is Celiac Awareness Month, so we've rounded up our favorite gluten-free dishes that you have to…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
May 4, 2018

This Cinco de Mayo our restaurants are going south of the border with specials throughout the week -…

read more >
How To
This Secret Ingredient Will Take Your Guac to the Next Level
May 1, 2018

El Segundo Sol  serves up some of the freshest, most authentic Mexican food on the Las Vegas Strip,…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Guide to the 26 Best Burgers to Try During National Burger Month
Apr 30, 2018

Burgers deserve a full month of celebrations which is why May has been declared National Burger…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour
Apr 21, 2018

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! Here are all the happy hour deals at select Lettuce Entertain You…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Best Time of the Year: Patio Season
Apr 20, 2018

Warm weather is here, which means al fresco dining is too! We've rounded up the best patios at…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants
Apr 8, 2018

Finding gluten-free friendly restaurants has gotten a lot easier than it used to be. At Lettuce…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Easter 2018
Mar 28, 2018

Celebrate the end of Lent and bring the whole family in for Easter. Whether you're looking for…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Milkshake Madness: A Tournament of Toppings
Mar 17, 2018

In the grand tournament of milkshake toppings, who are the last sweets standing? We rounded up all…

read more >
In The Restaurants
It’s Tequila Time! National Margarita Day is February 22
Feb 12, 2018

As if you needed an excuse to drink margaritas, here's one more: National Margarita Day…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Presidents Day 2018
Feb 8, 2018

Enjoy your long weekend on Presidents Day (Monday, February 19) by staying up late, sleeping in and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Big Game 2018: Where to Watch and What to Carry-out
Jan 25, 2018

Need a place to watch the big game on Sunday, February 4, 2018? The below restaurants are a great…

read more >
How To
How To Make the Perfect Game Day Dip
Jan 22, 2018

A staple for your Big Game Sunday spread is a delicious dip! In case you need some inspiration, we…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Eat: Martin Luther King Day 2018
Jan 6, 2018

A long weekend calls for long brunches filled with sweet and savory treats. And don't forget about…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Vegetarian Comfort Food
Dec 28, 2017

A New Year's resolution that we are making is to incorporate more veggies into our diet, but it's…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Best Spots for Group Dining
Nov 25, 2017

You finally got the whole crew to agree on the same day and time, now you just have to find the…

read more >
How To
Mezcal 101
Sep 1, 2016

Allow us to introduce you to tequila's smoky friend, mezcal. We chatted with Chef/Partner Terry…

read more >
How To
How To: Build the Perfect Nachos
May 21, 2016

“If you build it, they will come.”  The most epic nacho platter, that is. Just in time for…

read more >

Recent Posts

In The Restaurants
Tallboy Taco’s Boozy Rainbow Paleta Benefits the Center on Halsted
Jun 18, 2018

To celebrate Chicago Pride, Tallboy Taco is serving a limited-edition Rainbow Paleta available June…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Oh Marie, Take Us To Summer
Jun 14, 2018

Summer is in full swing and there's a newfound spring in Marie's step with il Porcellino's warm…

read more >
In The Restaurants
After 20 Years, Here’s 20 Things to Know About Mon Ami Gabi
Jun 14, 2018

Since 1998, Mon Ami Gabi has been serving up French classics like our signature Onion Soup Au…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Rich Says You’ve Gotta Try: Stella Barra Pizzeria
Jun 13, 2018

Summer time is typically synonymous with (trying to) eat lighter but what if we told you that what…

read more >
How To
Here’s How Bub City Celebrates the Best of American BBQ
Jun 11, 2018

Let’s stop for a moment and really think about… BBQ. Burning embers, fragrant smoke, saucey…

read more >
In The Restaurants
What’s New at Booth One: Breakfast, Brunch and a Bar Menu
Jun 7, 2018

We've got three things to add to your summer to do list! Booth One has rolled out a new weekday…

read more >
Openings
Now Open: Aba Brings Mediterranean Summer Vibes to Chicago
Jun 6, 2018

Aba is now open for dinner and with summer in Chicago almost here, we’ve got our eyes set on…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Perfect Date Night Dishes from Tokio Pub
Jun 5, 2018

Hey everyone! Kailley of Kailley Lindman Photography here! I'm a food writer-turned-photographer,…

read more >
Openings
Ramen-san Sends Noods to Fulton Market
Jun 4, 2018

The second edition of Ramen-san (@ramensanchi) is now open, bringing the "San" vibe of broth, beer…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Negroni Week: Drink Up For Charity
Jun 2, 2018

Drink a Negroni and benefit a local charity? We're in. June 4-10 marks Negroni Week 2018, a…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Gift Guide for the Food Lover in Your Life
Jun 1, 2018

Whether a birthday, graduation or any other of the countless holidays, we're here to make selecting…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Man Behind the Windy City Smokeout Music Lineup: Ed Warm
May 31, 2018

Entering its sixth year, Windy City Smokeout (July 13-15) has become synonymous with burgeoning…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!