It makes perfect sense that (pot) smoking master Cheech Marin would like his booze a touch on the smoky side. So when it came time for him to put his name behind a brand, that’s exactly what he went for. Tres Papalote Mezcal provides a mellow smoky vibe everyone (21 and over, hello kids!!) can get down with and this Friday (August 26th), Cheech will be in the Hi-Time Wine Cellars house signing bottles. Before you grab a bottle of Tres Papalote Mezcal for yourself, we got the scoop on everything mezcal plus a few extras and instantly, we need some pronto!
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I don’t want to sound uneducated because I fancy myself as a drinker but, how would you describe mezcal? Is it like tequila?
Cheech Marin: Yeah, it’s like tequila because it’s from the same agave cactus family but our particular brand is made from the cupreata plant that grows wild in the hills. There’s a different refinement process that leaves it with a smoky taste. It’s like tequila with tattoos.
I had some bourbon one time in Vegas and they put this smoke in it that wafted out. When you say it’s smoked, is it the essence like that or am I way off?
No, no you’re not off. It’s all from the way they cure and distill it. A lot of times they bury the pods in the ground and that extracts the smoky quality. Like the bourbon family, it’s all about the curing process. They both get smoky to one degree or another. Tres Papalote Mezcal has this middle of the road smokiness level that makes it perfect for popular consumption. It’s for the general public but an aficionado will love this.
Since drinking and eating go hand in hand because, well, hangovers, what kind of food would you pair it up with?
Anything would be great really! You know, it’s really good as a mixed drink. I’ve been drinking it with vermouth lately and I love it. It has this smoky after taste. It just has this thing! It has this smoked taste and it's like a tequila but you get this very different taste that you’re not used to and it’s sooo good. There’s a great market out there for it now so people are starting to really enjoy it.
There are a ton of different tequilas out so it’s cool you went in a different direction. I’m guessing a lot of your fans might drink Tres Papalote Mezcal after a nice sesh. I’m assuming smoky and smoky go hand in hand?
[Laughs.] I would think that every single one of my fans smoke! You don’t even necessarily have to be a fan of smoking though of course. Although it’s preferred. [Laughs.] This mezcal is so good on its own or in a cocktail. People are starting to get accustomed to it and starting to prefer it. You know, you’ve probably seen mezcal before because there are always these little souvenir bottles when you go to Tijuana with a worm in it. They sell that there like a little souvenir. But now, it’s a very established thing.
Don’t even get me started on “the worm.” I love the artwork on the bottle too. To me, it looks like this little cool monster I want to hang out and drink with.
[Laughs.] Yeah the artwork is made by two brothers, Elinar and Jamex De La Torre. They work together, they’re very established, and very well known worldwide. I collect their art and this is one in my collection. It’s a really funny kind of character. Like a Mexican samurai. We call him “Koo Koo Man.” My company is Koo Koo Banana so we named him Koo Koo Man after that. I think the packaging looks really good.
I agree, I love it! I saw on the website it said you will “only be signing bottles” which got me wondering, what’s the strangest thing someone has asked you to sign?
Ohhhh, body parts. [Laughs.]
Was it for tattoos? I can totally see that.
There are actually whole websites on that. Just Google Cheech and Chong tattoos. You will be amazed. We’re probably the most tattooed artists out there.
Is that a good thing? I mean, is it an honor or is it still just totally strange?
You know, when you first start to see it you feel like, that’s kind of ridiculous. But now, they get wilder and wilder and trust me, it’s still wild. Go to a website and look. You’ll trip out.
Indeed I will. It’s so cool you’re coming to Costa Mesa, we all love you so much. I hope you have so much fun.
We always have a lot of fun at these signings. Come out and try some Tres Papalote Mezcal. It's so good and after a while, you won’t even want tequila anymore! [Laughs.]
You can get your own bottle of Tres Papalote Mezcal at Hi-Time Wine Cellars and as an added bonus, this Friday August 26th, Cheech Marin will be signing bottles from 4pm-8pm. For more information on Tres Papalote Mezcal, check out their website TresPapaloteMezcal.com and for more on Cheech, go to his website CheechMarin.com and follow him on Twitter @CheechMarin. Hi-Time Wine Cellars is located at 250 Ogle Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. (949) 650-8463.