Hails from: Mexico
Similar to: Tequila
Who’s got the worm? Similar to gin and jenever, tequila owes its origins to mezcal; the original distilled spirit of Mexico, made from the mystical agave plant. Tequila, in its modern form, can be considered a form of mezcal, but is unique in that is made specifically from blue agave and is held to stricter standards in its distillation.
Present-day mezcal is still made the same way it was over 200 years ago, from the heart (piña) of the agave plant. While not as smooth as tequila, it still comes in white and golden forms, as well as aged mezcal, which is barreled for up to four years. Also, while it’s not nearly as popular as it’s Margarita-making spawn, mezcal is growing in popularity in the U.S. and abroad, evident by growing exports out of Mexico.
Back to the highly debated worm; there’s some heated debate over its presence in tequila bottles, however, mezcal brands are known to carry the creatures. The worm, which lives in the agave plant, is stored in the liquor, then drained, sorted and placed back in the bottle at the end of the process. If you are bold enough to bite into one, by all means.
Unlike tequila, mezcal is not meant for margarita mix, and is traditionally shot back. It has a stinging, some would say acquired taste, so have your lime wedges ready. Mezcal has been considered an aphrodisiac, but not a hallucinogen, despite its similar sounding name to mescaline. If you want to get really old school, pour a shot out on the ground as an offering to the Mayahuel – goddess of agave and the fertility of Earth. Amén.