One of the cardinal rules of Drinks of the Week is that they have to be available here in Orange County. There's no point in writing about something our readers can't get, right? But this week we're going to make a rare exception.
Why? Well, first, because it's damn good mezcal. DAMN good mezcal. It's made with agave espadin in Santiago Matatlán, which is to Oaxacan mezcal as Tequila is to, well, tequila, and is worth every penny for the powerful magic inside the bottle.
The second reason, though, is because Cecilia Ríos Murrieta–la niña del mezcal herself–is from right here in sunny Anaheim. She lives in Mexico City and goes to Oaxaca regularly, but she's an Anaheim girl through and through, and we love supporting local folks who've done right, especially when doing so tastes good.
Forget the images you've seen of insects sunk to the bottom of mezcal bottles. Those are babosadas for tourists brought on when some gap-brained invader saw a bottle that accidentally had a maguey worm in the bottom. No such trickery here: this is artisanal mezcal, which burns like fire but imparts a smoky, peaty taste not unlike Islay Scotch laid over the visceral, earthy, overwhelmingly ripe flavor of agave. Don't drink this with “training wheels”, even the less-irksome mezcal training wheels. No sal de gusano, no orange slices; just sip this and realize that we're teetering on the edge of a mezcal explosion that will take the country by storm, one tiny sip at a time.
Cecilia makes two other kinds–one made from agave madrecuixe and one called “primario” that is unfiltered, though still double-distilled–but it's the Espadin you'll see everywhere. If you want a bottle for yourself, it's available at K&L Liquors in Hollywood, but better yet, go to your local stores (ahem, Hi-Time) and demand it. In the meanwhile, look for it to start appearing in Orange County's dens of cocktail artistry in the very near future.