Mezcal in San Francisco. How and where to buy it.

You should also be selective with mezcal!

I just had a very interesting and dynamic dinner at a friend’s house. While some of us were eating some tomato and gluten-free pizza, others were trading locally farmed/organic/sustainable vegetables to make their dinner salad. We were all talking about our different preferences and how all these preferences were possible to get as one was on a liquid diet, the other was vegetarian, others could not eat gluten and the other was very keen about getting the best “Mexican” chocolate from Portland to make his rice milk hot chocolate. How is this all possible? Only in San Francisco…

One conversation carried to the other and we ended up talking about my passion for mezcal and this brought the attention of one of them who happened to like mezcal as well. She told me she had just started being into mezcal but did not know much about it, so she brought out a bottle of Del Maguey Vida that was gifted to her for her birthday, so I could tell her how good it was. I told them a little bit about the producer, Ron Cooper, who happened to be also friends with my friend’s dad. I told them how he was one of the ones who started importing mezcal to the United States and also told them the story behind this Vida mezcal. They were all into the story and also into the flavors of mezcal, but as we finished with this talk they told me they wished it became more popular so they could buy it everywhere. This was an eye opener for me since I realized how many people like mezcal, but do not know how to pick the right one or even know where to get it. So I decided to share the growing list of places where you can get good quality mezcals in San Francisco (retail).


These are the ones we know about, but feel free to post any other retail stores you know, salud!

Carbonated bottled cocktails? Yes!

Have you been witness of this new trend of bottled carbonated cocktails on the menus of the best bars in the city? What is the story behind it, do you know? Here is a video by Jeffrey Morgenthaler explaining his “little project” in Portland.

Agave Wine? Really?

A good friend told us he wanted to bring ‘Agave Wine’ to his restaurant and after some research, we came to the conclusion that there cannot be an agave wine as wine comes from the vid and its made from grapes. There may be an Agave distillate that can’t be called Tequila for a number of reasons, but not wine, as this brand calls its product. He finally got it and this is the one, what do you guys think?

Small Batch VS. Corporate Tasting part. I

Small batch vs. corporate was the topic we discussed at our 5th Agave Tip tasting yesterday night. We tasted and talked about: El Señorío Mezcal (Young with two worms), Herradura Antiguo (Blanco and Reposado), Maestro Dobel & Pueblo Viejo Orgullo Añejo.   We also tasted Casa ZG Sangrita which was mailed for us to taste a couple of days ago.

We started the evening watching Craft Distillers’ video on Mezcal, which was also mailed for us to watch at the tasting. This is a really good introductory video for all the ones who want to get in the know of Mezcal. The video was filmed in Oaxaca and explains the process of Los Danzantes or Los Nahuales Mezcal mainly. You can see the artisanal process and explains some of the differences with Tequila.

We continued tasting El Señorío Mezcal (Young) with two worms, which I personally think is a transitional Mezcal for people who only drink Tequila. It has an interesting smell, as the first approach to your senses is the distinctive smell of those worms that affect the flavor and smell. It gets better as it breathes. The first sip has that same worm flavor to it, which makes difficult to taste the agave notes and that distinctive smokiness.
As you keep sipping, you start getting the flavors of the agave and a subtle smoky/peppery aftertaste which I think should be the first and not last notes to taste. We gave it a positive review as it is an easy to drink Mezcal and it appeals to people who are trying to taste something different, although not that smokey.

We were lucky enough to have Herradura’s ambassador leading our tasting for Herradura Antiguo. We learned a couple of fun facts about this brand:
– They cook the agaves for 26 hours and takes them 24 hours to cool down.
– Antiguos have an extra filtration.
– Antiguo Reposado and Añejo are blends of different tequilas.
– Antiguo Reposado is rested for 4 months in new and used American oak barrels.
– The original recipe for the Reposado used to be rested for 9 months.

This brand was brought to the market to compete in the same category as Jose Cuervo Tradicional. We first tasted the Antiguo Blanco. It has a smooth approach to the nose, you can get pepper notes, a lot of cooked agave and a little sweetness to it. On the mouth, you can taste the cooked agave, caramel comes on your mid palate and pepper appears at the very end. Its great for cocktails, but not necessarily needs any mixer. Good value for your money and good taste overall.

Antiguo reposado is definitely one of Mexico’s favorite everyday choices as its not as expensive and there’s always a bottle of it at everyones’ houses. You can definitely get the American oak notes on your nose at first. Some earthiness and pepper as well. It is pretty generous on the palate as it has a lot going on, you get the oak at first, then comes the cooked agave with some caramel notes and the pepper comes at the end. Great for sipping and makes great Palomas as well.

The next Tequila in our Riedel glasses was Maestro Dobel. This Tequila was the first ever ‘diamond filtered’ tequila. This crisp clear blended Tequila has an interesting approach. We couldn’t decide if this Tequila appeals to non-tequila drinkers or proper connoisseurs. They explained to us that this technique was also developed to keep the agave notes in the Tequila even if its a blend of reposados and añejos. We also learned that even if its a blend from an extra añejo Tequila, you can only name it after the youngest blend, which in this case is the reposado. This tequila has a peppery first approach on the nose; you can still get the notes from the cooked agave. It has a well balanced flavor in your mouth and leaves a cooked agave after taste. A good overall experience, but I think you can get better Tequilas for the price.

part II coming soon…

Denominaciones de Origen en México

1.TEQUILA (1974)
2. MEZCAL (1994)
3. OLINALÁ ( 1994)
4. TALAVERA (1997)
6. BACANORA (2000)
8. SOTOL (2002)
10. CAFÉ DE CHIAPAS (2003)
11. CHARANDA (2003)