Executive Traveler, August 2019
Discovering the Definitive Mezcal
by Franz Scheurer
Our mission to discover the definitive mezcal at its Mexican origin begins with the inimitable Ron Cooper. An American artist, he has spent his money and life bringing small mezcal producers together and commercialising their spirits.
In doing so, he has managed to keep old-fashioned methods of production going and secure an income for mezcal-producing families. We benefit from the fact that the mezcals of his brand, Del Maguey, are probably the best and most authentic in the world…
…Absolutely everything is made by hand in a slow, hard and rewarding process that yields some of the best mezcals in the world. The upshot, in my mind at least, is that you can’t go wrong with any of Del Maguey’s mezcals.
UPROXX, June 2019
by Christopher Osburn
Chris Heinrich, lead bartender at Tre Rivali in Milwaukee
Del Maguey’s Pechuga. They take an already stellar mezcal, shower it with wild apples and plums, more fruits, almonds, rice, and distill it a third time with a chicken breast hanging overhead in the still.
A savory opposition to the fruitiness, you’re left with an incredible, clean, and unique single village mezcal.
UPROXX, February 2019
by Christopher Osburn
According to Adam Peabody, bartender at LH Rooftop in Chicago, “for me, Del Maguey is the end-all be-all for mezcal. Their founder Ron Cooper is largely the person responsible for the spirit’s resurgence in recent years, and they really do a great job in preserving the traditional methods of producing it. Del Maguey Vida is an approachable and budget-friendly bottle to start with if you’re interested in familiarizing yourself with mezcal.”
NYLON, December 2018
by Irena Grechko
You thought the gift-giving season was over? Not so fast! If you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve at a house party, you know you shouldn’t show up empty-handed (no matter what the host says). With that in mind, we’ve gathered the most design-forward and coolest bottles to get every type of host, whether they’re DIY-obsessed and use hand-calligraphed place cards or are known to throw a sound meditation at the strike of midnight.
For the host who color-codes their books, get a few of Del Maguey’s mezcal bottles that come in the same shade of emerald green with complementary labels to signify the specific village in which the mezcal is made and that gives each creation its unique flavor.
Bloomberg, December 2018
by John deBary
The year 2018 has been an eventful one, no matter where you looked. This is no less true in the spirits world. Even as cannabis continues to boom as an intoxicant of choice and manufacturers pivot to weed beer, there have been innovations in almost every type of booze, from Japanese gin to bartender-made brandy to a Danish spirit from a team of Noma alums that defies categorization.
The spirits we selected as “best in show” represent a bunch of delicious, weird, and pioneering bottles divided into three categories: classics that are newly available from distributors; true innovators; and the purely best in class—plus an honorable mention that warrants its own space, because, well, it’s a not even alcoholic. If you’re in the market for a few different bottles to welcome 2019, each of these is worth cracking open.
Del Maguey Wild Jabalí Single Village Mezcal
This bottle has been racking up awards all year—and for good reason: Made from 100 percent Jabalí agave, which is notorious for being difficult to distill, this mezcal is wildly complex with rich fruit on the nose and woody herbal notes on the palate. I wouldn’t do anything else with this other than pour it in a glass and drink it.
Forbes, December 2018
by Michael Solomon
L for Liquid Smoke
A smoky flavor may be associated with Scotch whiskies, but plenty of other spirits (including mezcal and rum) add fire to their flavor. Here are three new future flames: Balvenie Peat Week 14 Year Old, 2003 Vintage ($99); Del Maguey Wild Jabali Mezcal ($100); Mount Gay XO The Peat Expression ($250)
Forbes Online, September 2018
by Brad Japhe
Del Maguey Wild Jabali ($100)
Del Maguey founder Ron Cooper refers to his mezcal as ‘liquid art’.If that’s the case, his newest bottle is, by all accounts, a masterpiece. Distilled from a wild agave that matures over two decades upon the rock-strewn hills of Sierra Norte, Mexico, this is a liquor defying easy categorization. The nose brings heavy minerality, cheese rind, licorice. But on the tongue is a gentle spirit with bright acidity and floral undertones. It takes repeated sips for it to fully reveal itself. Just don’t take too long figuring it out. After receiving recognition as the Best New Spirit at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, it won’t be long for this world.
Imbibe.com, August 2018
by Emma Janzen
In Ron Cooper’s new memoir Finding Mezcal, the artist and founder of Del Maguey shares fascinating stories about the people, places and culture surrounding mezcal, a spirit he’s largely responsible for popularizing over the past two decades. One of our favorite stories is how copitas became synonymous with mezcal consumption. In the following excerpt from his book, Cooper explains how these tiny terra cotta cups came to be.
I wanted to mimic the traditional vessel used to taste mezcal, the jícara, a thin-walled, hollowed-out gourd sometimes decorated with etchings on the outside of the bowl. As a material, the gourd skin is porous, it breathes. When you pour mezcal into it, the jícara drinks its share.
I worked with [the Benítez family] to design a copita that, like the jícara, would breathe. We worked on the shape, which has morphed slightly over the years, but is basically squat cup that stands roughly an inch high. It holds a perfect measure of mezcal and sits comfortably in the hand. It’s the perfect size for hiding in your pocket. I always carry mine in my jeans or my jacket—you never know when someone will want to pour you a nice mezcal.
Everything you need to host a tequila- and mezcal-tasting party
By M. Carrie Allan
Del Maguey’s Vida de San Luis del Rio: The mezcal you’ll see most often behind the bar, even in bars that don’t specialize in agave spirits. It’s great for cocktails — try it in a margarita — and delicious on its own. Founder Ron Cooper specializes in “single village” mezcals named for their place of origin; try the Chichicapa for a mezcal with citrus, smoke and a hint of mint.
GQ.COM, May 2018
By Paula Forbes
Mezcal is great. It’s smoky, it’s cactus-y, and it can be…very expensive. But fear not, budget drinkers and agave noobs: there are plenty of great budget mezcals out there to get you started. GQ’s Best Stuff asked 11 bartenders across the country to share their favorite affordable bottles.
Del Maguey Vida Single Village Mezcal
Kayla Hasbrook of Scampi in New York recommends this bottle. “As far as I’m concerned this is a staple in any collection.” John “JOD” O’Donnell of MB Steak in Las Vegas agrees: “I can’t say enough good things about Del Maguey Vida Single Village Mezcal.”
Mashed.com, April 2018
“This is my right hand man. This is my old faithful. I love this mezcal for its price point and its deliciousness. It’s insanely versatile in cocktails or own its own,” Hawkins says. “For me it was the first real mezcal you saw in your rail for cocktails and I think it still holds its place there for me. It comes from a great producer, San Luis Del Rio, whose parent company has gone on to forge some really amazing single-estate mezcals. I love everything about this brand.”
DEL MAGUEY CHICHICAPA
“High end quality sipper. This baby deserves neat in a glass whilst the sun sets and your favorite record plays,” Hawkins says. “The complex flavor of this single-estate mezcal is absolutely delicious. This was the first real high-end mezcal I ever tasted and it always resonates with me. I love that it starts out sweet then gets earthy, spicy, and then minty. It’s one of my favorites and always will be.”
DEL MAGUEY PECHUGA
“This would be my second favorite high-end sipper. Pechuga means ‘chest’ in Spanish. The reason they call it that is because they use an actual chicken breast in the distillation process,” Hawkins explains. “They use fresh fruit and nuts from mountains and they say that the breast adds balance to the flavor. Man, this is one of the wildest mezcals with tons of flavor.”
DEL MAGUEY CREMA
“Sweet, smoky, and creamy (without actual milk). This mezcal is dangerous. It’s so smooth and delicate on the tongue that you could easily get more than a little carried away with this guy,” Hawkins says. “They use the same base as the vida and then they add Miel de Maguey, which is unfermented syrup of roast agave. It’s so good and it’s even better in cocktails.”
DEL MAGUEY MINERO
“Another single-estate from the Maguey household. One of the things that I love about this household is that all their mezcals have such beautiful balance of flavor,” Hawkins says. “This one in particular plays my favorite balancing act of flavor. It goes from floral to rich winter fruits, to burnt sweet honey and citrus. This one I love down on a large ice cube with an orange peel.”
Drinks International, January 2018
Pernod Ricard’s acquisition of Del Maguey has done nothing to take the shine off the brand- indeed, with asses distribution potential this mezcal could rise in popularity. Half the bars that stock mezcal (90% of those polled) stock Del Maguey. Indeed, the cult brand is among the top three best-selling mezcals in 76% of the bars that stock the Mexican spirit.
GQ India, January 2018
To elevate your margarita
Have a bottle of mezcal on hand. Tequila’s smoky, sippable cousin is the hot spirit of the moment. Get Del Maguey’s Single Village Mezcal – you’ll feel sexy just owning it.
Wine Enthusiast 2017 Wine Star Awards
Each year, WineEnthusiast honors the individuals and companies that made outstanding achievements over the past year in the wine and alcoholic beverage world.
Spirt Brand of the Year Del Maguey Singal Village Mezcal
Liquor.com, October 2017
You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
DEL MAGUEY SINGLE VILLAGE CHICHICAPA ($75)
“By expert palenques, it’s savory with grilled pineapple, tamarind, a hint of chocolate and mint in the end—a wonderful introduction to sipping mezcal.”—Karen Fu, former bar director at New York City’s Donna
DEL MAGUEY SINGLE VILLAGE MINERO SANTA CATARINA MINAS ($73)
“It’s one of the best single-village mezcals. With notes of floral, vanilla, fig and burnt honey, it’s complex yet smooth—a must-try.”—Kang
DEL MAGUEY SINGLE VILLAGE VIDA($37)
“It’s smoky and vegetal with a subtle sweetness.”—Max Green, senior bartender at New York City’s Amor y Amargo
Vinepair, June 2017
Mezcal is easily one of the most artisanal products in the world, with wide swaths of variation in style and a story behind every bottle made. And today’s market is looking for authentic stories to sell to consumers, making mezcal the perfect fit.
Take Del Maguey, the brand Pernod Ricard recently purchased a majority stake in. Each bottle and label is made by artisan producers who’ve worked in the industry for decades. Ron Cooper, the founder of Del Maguey, is an American, but over time, he built relationships with local producers and farmers. He handles the paperwork, regulations, and government agencies that need proof the liquor is safe for American consumers.
Cooper’s method of doing business is similar to how other mezcal brands operate. Today’s mezcal brand owners are business translators for the master distillers and agave farmers who make the product. Relationships are key to the producers and the brand owners because without a good relationship, the producers get stiffed and the brand owner earns a reputation as a bad business partner. During conversations VinePair conducted with multiple mezcal brand owners, Cooper’s reputation was frequently brought up. People spoke of him as a responsible owner who cared about tradition and quality. His reputation as a spokesperson for mezcal in general in the U.S. is just as commendable.
“If you go out there and talk to any relevant cocktail bar, throughout seven different states — everywhere I go the one brand I see is Del Maguey,” Anthony Champion, the co-founder of the mezcal brand Mezcal Union, tells VinePair over the phone. “When I speak to these bartenders, almost all of them have met Ron Cooper.”
That Pernod Ricard chose Cooper for their investment is telling. It shows both how the corporation wants to position itself in the mezcal industry, and the respect it has for traditional production.
“We want to be associated with the most authentic brands with the strongest provenance in the categories that we operate in,” Agdern of Pernod Ricard tells VinePair, adding that Cooper’s reputation is part of the reason the company choose Del Maguey. “Ron Cooper is the pioneer of the mezcal business in the U.S.,” Agdern says.
Saveur, May 2017
The 5 Best Mezcals to Make You Fall in Love with Smoke
by Dan Q. Dao
Del Maguey VIDA and Del Maguey Pechuga
Del Maguey is perhaps the best-known purveyor of mezcal in the States, and its wide range of offerings—there’s one for any type of drinker—can be found at bars across the country. Their entry-level offering, the Vida, is a single-village mezcal launched in 2010 that bartenders love to mix with. “Vida is such a versatile and cost-effective mezcal for cocktails, imparting tropical fruits and smoke,” says Eryn Reece of The Wooly Public in New York, New York.
Another favorite behind the bar is the Del Maguey Chichicapa, which is an excellent starter for those looking to sip mezcal neat for the first time. “Up in our mezcaleria, I typically describe Chichicapa to guests as sipping on a slightly sweet, smoky campfire,” says Brett Esler at Mezcaleria Tobala at Whisler’s in Austin, Texas. “It’s a 92 proof spirit that is incredibly well balanced and sips beautifully. And on a good night, I can easily go through 2 full bottles of it strictly pouring it neat in half pours and full pours.”
New York Times, March 2017
More than ever, Parisians are more curious and willing to try new things, with a little guidance from the experts. “With Candelaria’s South American spirit, we, of course, incorporated tequila and mezcal in particular, neither of which had a market in Paris before we opened. Now, we sell more Del Maguey than anyone else in continental Europe,” Fontaine says. Because of that openness, there are fewer limits for the barman.
GQ France, February 2017
Produit avec une quarantaine de variétés d’agaves, cet AOC mexicain se distingue par son coté fumé å la cuisson des coeurs d’agave dans un four creusé sous terre.
Le cocktail: Hermano (une margarita revi-sitée): 4.5 cl de mezcal, 1.5 cl de Campari, 2 cl citron vert, 0.5 cl de sirop d’agave. Å shaker et å dresser dans unecoupe rimée avec de sek de chenilleset de sauterelles. Monsieur Antoine, 17, avenue Parmemtier, Paris 11′.
La Bouteille: Del Maguey Vida: Å base d’espadin (unevarié d’agave) et réputé pour son coté très fumé, 47 euro.
USA Today, January 2017
10 surprising spirits supplement
by Céline Bossart
While the notorious worm found in mezcal bottles is typically considered gimmicky, mezcal de pechuga takes things to a whole new level by throwing a raw chicken breast into the distillation process. Sure, it’s a bit unconventional, but it is considered traditional by Mexican standards, and recipes are most often passed down from generation to generation, calling for local ingredients and usually reserved for consumption on special occasions.
Del Maguey is perhaps the most popular mezcal de pechuga in the U.S. market and is made by suspending a raw chicken breast from the top of the still during the third distillation while the liquid is simultaneously infused with plantains, rice, wild apples and plums, almonds and more.
Men’s Journal, December 2016
The 5 Best Mezcals Under $50
By Max Plenke
Del Maguey’s entry-level option is a great collection-starter, leaning on the fruitier side with a soft finish. “The workhorse of the house mezcal,” Mix says. “Del Maguey has a great smokey spirit here that people love and expect when they think mezcal. Created for cocktail use and good for it.” [klwines.com; $34.99]
Robb Report, December 2016
23 Top Spirits Releases by Richard Carleton Hacker
Del Maguey Ibérico Mezcal
Dispel any thoughts about mezcal being a rougher, coarser, smokier version of tequila. Not all mezcals are created alike, as this sophisticated version proves. The single-village concept of sourcing agaves from a specific area to create individualist mezcals was the inspiration of entrepreneur Ron Cooper, who envisioned microclimates and terroir to give each mezcal a distinctive character. Teaming up with chef José Andrés has resulted in a distillate made of wild mountain fruits, almonds, white rice, and the legendary Ibérico de Bellota ham, made from free-range, acorn-fed, black-footed Ibérico pigs from Spain. The result is a deeply flavorful mezcal, floral in aroma and laced with autumn fruits and wet hay. ($200)
Liquor.com, December 2016
“Mezcal is a tough category, because new ones are discovered every year, making it difficult to keep up, but you cannot go wrong with Del Maguey. Ron Cooper has been bringing in wonderful mezcal for years.”—Gary Patrick Crunkleton, bartender at and owner of The Crunkleton
Gear Patrol, December 2016
DEL MAGUEY PAPOLOTE DE PUEBLA, THE RISE OF MEZCAL
by Jack Seemer
Connoisseurs of mezcal have long been mystified by its unique flavor and rich heritage. But it seemed like this year, for the first time, the smoky agave spirit moved past its niche label into the mainstream. Demand rose from NYC to L.A. as more bars began to feature it on their menus through clever and inviting cocktails; The New Yorker wrote a long feature about the trend, as did we; meanwhile, Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, won the James Beard for “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional,” beating out Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, Rob Tod from Allagash Brewing Company and Harlen Wheatley from Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Of the more notable bottles to hit shelves this year was Del Maguey’s Single Village Espituosa de Puebla. Its entry marked the first time ever that a mezcal from Puebla — the most recent state to be added to the Denomination of Origin for Mezcal, despite having among the oldest traditions of mezcal-making in Mexico — has entered the US. It’s delicious, with a creamy mouthfeel and notes of citrus. But more so, the first mezcal from Puebla is a reminder, too, that the mezcal boom in the US has only just begun.
5 Mezcals to Try Now
by Sam Dangremond
Tequila’s smokier, spicier cousin is made for sipping slowly
Del Maguey Chichicapa
Named for the single village in which it’s made about 6,000 feet above sea level, this mezcal from respected producer Del Maguey (“of the agave” in Spanish), which was founded by artist Ron Cooper 21 years ago, is smooth and vegetal.
St. Louis Magazine, September 2016
Mezcal Continues to Gain Popularity
By William C. Meyers
If you enjoy the flavor of a good tequila and the complexities of a single-malt scotch, then I have the perfect drink for you: Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal. Like tequila, mezcal is made from a variety of agave, also known as maguey. Agave hearts are roasted over hot stones in a conical pit for up to a month before being ground into a mash that is then fermented in wooden vats for as long as 30 days, after which the liquid is double-distilled in wood-fired stills. Each variety is named after the single village of origin and characterized by the agave varietal, microclimate, and maker’s influence. The resulting drink highlights the unique qualities of the villages throughout Oaxaca, Mexico. Here are just three of my favorites, available locally at Randall’s, The Wine Merchant, and Mission Taco Joint:
Chichicapa is the classic mezcal. It has typical tequila note of agave, plus lemon, lime, cedar, and straw. The nose is complex and intriguing, constantly evolving on the palate and culminating in a long finish. The mouthfeel is rich and coating.
Minero is distilled in circa 800 B.C. China–style stills built of clay and bamboo tubing. Bright and fruity, it’s a nice contrast to Chichicapa. You’ll find notes of agave, mango, apricots, apples, and mint.
Tobala is produced from wild mountain maguey, found only in the shade of oak trees in the highest-altitude canyons. This kind of maguey is smaller, with broader leaves. The resulting drink has more minerality and a grassy note. The finish is extremely long, with a mild smokiness that puts me in mind of the embers that smolder after a campfire has died.
Star Chefs September 2016
At the 11th annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress, we’re gathering some of the industry’s most formidable professionals to explore the theme, “What Is Progress.” We asked Bartender Joaquín Simó of Pouring Ribbons what progress means to him.
Lisa Elbert: Spirits company that represents progress?
Joaquín Simó: It would almost be enough for Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal to have introduced most of North America to the incredible spirits being produced (according to traditional practices) in villages throughout Oaxaca. But rather than stop there, they have raised the bar by not simply paying their producers a much higher wage than normal. They work together to ensure the community is benefiting, that traditional farming and production methods continue to be employed, and build lasting relationships with the families they are supporting. Respect, not greed, has been the key factor in their slow and steady growth, and the amazing consistency of their product line reflects the care that attends every step of the process.
James Beard Award 2016
Ron Cooper, Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal founder and keeper of the culture, was honored with a prestigious James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” this year in Chicago. The James Beard Awards honor the country’s top culinary talent, and is known as the Oscars of the food world. “I feel grateful and full of love,” Cooper said. “It is such an honor for our ten Zapotec, Mixtec and Mixe farmer family producers. I am so proud.”
The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift Guide
Chichicapa Mezcal by Del Maguey $68
This mezcal from Del Maguey is made by Maestro Mezcalero Faustian Garcia Vasquez from espadín agave and has 46% ABV. The nose is light and floral, but on the palate notes of citrus and agave sweetness intermingle. The finish has a light smokiness with wisps of chocolate and mint.
Private Clubs, June 2016
DEL MAGUEY MEZCAL DE PUEBLA SAN PABLO AMEYALTEPEC
Del Maguey believes terroir is as important to mezcal as it is to wine. When this mezcal hits stores later this summer, it will give most Americans their first taste of Puebla’s terroir. That Mexican state just received official mezcal certification from the Mexican government this year. Del Maguey partner Michael Gardner says the mezcal made in the lush, hillside village of San Pablo Ameyaltepec is “incredibly floral” and has “an elegant mouthfeel.”
CB2, May 2016
Crate and Barrel 2 Blog
What you need to know about the smokey “new” spirit on the block.
Mezcal is having a moment, and for good reason. Typically smokey and full of nuanced flavor, the Mexican spirit has a long history and is still made with traditional production processes. So how exactly does it differ from tequila, and what should you serve it with at a party? We asked Misty Kalkofen of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal to share her expert advice on the hot topic. These five main points cover the basics before you taste your way to your favorite flavor. Full Article.
Playboy, April 2016
DEL MAGUEY ESPADIN ESPECIAL
This very limited bottling is one of the benchmark mezcals on the market. It’s extremely complex, with floral, citrusy, salty and butterscotch notes—a mezcal to be sipped, for sure.
The New Yorker, March 2016
Searching for the ultimate artisanal distillate.
Many Americans who have learned to drink mezcal learned from Ron Cooper, a Southern California artist who takes credit for the phrase “sip it, don’t shoot it.” Cooper’s first encounter was less than sublime. It was 1963, and he and a dozen friends from art school were camping on the beach in Ensenada. They spent every night at Hussong’s Cantina, drinking Monte Albán, an industrially made mezcal the color of lemon Joy, with a worm at the bottom of the bottle. “I was the fool waiting for the worm every night,” he told me, when I met him for dinner in Oaxaca City. He showed me a picture of himself at Hussong’s, flopped over, head on the table. “I crawled back to the beach at night to have a beer and recuperate, and I thought, What was that stuff?”
Cooper is now in his early seventies, with an unstudied man bun and the wizened, tanned face of an apple doll. He poured us mezcal Negronis from a dented plastic water bottle that he’d brought from home, and in a raspy voice instructed me to stir my drink fifteen times in each direction to unleash its energy. The waiter remained deferential. Cooper’s luminous, pale resin sculptures are owned by the Whitney and the Guggenheim, but in Oaxaca he is known as the person who made mezcal respectable. Everywhere he goes is de-facto B.Y.O.
…For years, it was tough to buy artisanal mezcal in Oaxaca City: it was considered hillbilly moonshine, and nobody copped to liking it. But now, thanks in part to Ron Cooper, there are mezcalerías in Los Angeles, New York, and Paris; in Mexico City, it is a cliché of privilege to drink mezcal, and practically a rite of passage for a young “junior” to own a label for a while. And every street in Oaxaca City seems to offer an opportunity to drink well.
Esquire, March 2016
An Introduction to Mexico’s Best Spirit That Isn’t Tequila and the best bottles to buy, as chosen by expert bartender Ivy Mix.
Long before there was tequila, there was mezcal. But only in recent years has the more traditional spirit from Mexico—most easily defined by its smoky flavor—made its way north of the border in large enough quantities so that you’ll be able to find it at most decent bars across the country…. One of mezcal’s most enthusiastic proponents in the U.S. is Ivy Mix, who was named “American Bartender of the Year” at the 2015 Tales of the Cocktail, and who recently opened the Latin-inspired bar Leyenda in Brooklyn. Ivy talks about mezcal the way some people talk about art or music, with deep appreciation for its traditions and producers. We tapped her expertise for suggestions on
which eight bottles of mezcal to try now. Read full article.
Del Maguey, one of the most widely available mezcals in the States, started out using mostly Espadín, but shifted to focusing on limited-production “single village” mezcals after their Tobola mezcal (see below) caused waves
in bartender circles.
Espadin Especial: This 100-percent Espadín bottling is actually from their Tobola producer. “This is what Espadín is supposed to taste like,” says Ivy. “They let it grow the right amount of time and take care of the plants.” The mezcal is floral, with vanilla and cinnamon on the palate, and a hint of mushrooms.
Tobala: Tobala, Ivy says, is “the truffle of agave” because it is foraged at high elevations in Oaxaca and is rich in flavor. The agave for this limited-production bottling grows in a more tame environment amidst a rose garden. It’s savory yet delicate, with some cinnamon and mushroom notes.
Drinks International, January 2016
So, now we know The World’s 50 Best Bars 2015, it’s time to take stock. The World’s 50 Best Bars Annual Report does just that – it tells us the buying habits and cocktail trends of the best bars in the world. Many thanks to the 100 helpful bartenders and bar owners who took part in the survey. Hopefully their collective testaments, collated and analysed in this report, will act to inform the industry and improve working standards beyond the elitehis is the juice that really gets the world’s best bartenders going. For this list we didn’t want to hear about portfolio contracts and price competitiveness – this one is purely for the purists. To your left are the spirits that make bartenders feel good about the world and the brands, given the choice, they would take to the next.
There is no appropriate segue from global gin brand to handcrafted mezcal. The green bottles of Del Maguey, last year’s Bartenders’ Choice, are still in the good books. Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons in New York thinks that’s because Del Maguey has “integrity, transparency and deliciousness”.
Edoardo Nono of Rita & Cocktails in Milan says the mezcal is starting to get around but “has kept a perfect consistency of quality”. He’s right, the brand has rolled out to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE and Israel. Ásgeir Már Björnsson has even lured the once-hard- to-get Mexican spirit to Slipbarrin in Reykjavík, Iceland. Read full article.
USA Today, January 2016
One of the biggest names in the world of mezcal, Del Maguey is soon releasing its first ever mezcal from the Mexican state of Puebla; this will be one of the first agave products from Puebla ever to be released in the U.S.
In 2016, Del Maguey is also releasing a few new items in its Special Cask Finish series, including its Chichicapa expression aged in highly-prized Old Rip Van Winkle casks.
Del Maguey’s signature single village mezcals can be found behind the bar at top cocktail spots around the globe.
Robb Report, December 2015
Del Maguey “Ibérico” Mezcal
Mezcal is my favorite spirit in the world. Mainly produced in and around the Oaxacaregion of Mexico, this distillate is technically crafted in a manner similar to tequila. However, the piña, which is the heart of the agave plant, is slightly smoked beneath the ground before being fermented and distilled. This particular small-batch rendition utilizes Jamón Ibérico (an expensive Spanish-cured ham made from black-footed pigs) in its production. The out-of-this-world result ($199) represents a different take on the distiller’s “Pechuga,” which is made using a whole chicken—but that’s a story for another list. (delmaguey.com; available through drinkupny.com)
Forbes, November 2015
If You Like Tequila, You’ll Love Mezcal – But Get It Before It’s Gone
Houston’s Cocktail King, Bobby Heugel, is evangelical about the ancient spirit and has made more than 30 pilgrimages to Mexico’s rural vinatas. Now he’s spreading the gospel of agave back home….
Houston’s cocktail king started tending bar at 18. The first spirit he became passionate about was tequila, because one of his first bosses loved it and had Heugel try hundreds of premium bottles. “It was higher quality than today,” he recalls. He thought he knew what Mexico had to offer, but that changed one day in 2007. A man named Ron Cooper walked into the bar where Heugel was working with some bottles of mezcal under his Del Maguey brand. (“Maguey” is the Aztec word for agave.) Cooper had sourced mezcals from four different villages where the local mezcaleros all used similar agaves and techniques. The first one Heugel tried was from Chichicapa, several hours north of Oaxaca. It blew himaway. Cooper, based in Taos, New Mexico, was a trailblazer–one of the first Americans to become obsessed with mezcal, seeking out the distillers and figuring out how to bring this liquid treasure into the States. In finer liquor stores you can find Del Maguey mezcals in their distinctive green bottles, and Heugel now stocks them in all four of the Houston bars he co-owns. (All told, The Pastry War offers more than 150 agave-based spirits.)
1.5 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa
.75 oz Yellow Chartreuse
.75 oz Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass without ice. Garnish with an orange zest.
Drinks International, October 2015
Hamish smith talks to ‘Mr. Mezcal’ Ron Cooper about art, smuggling and improving life in the Zapotec villages.
We all have crazy ideas. But some of us have follow through. Ron Cooper is one such cat, to use his bohemian vernacular. In 1970 in a blur of tequila he and his friends had the idea that the Pan American Highway may not actually exist. The next morning Cooper didn’t, as is customary when hungover, dismiss the frolics of the night before. No, two weeks later he, a fellow artist and a surfboard shaper, set off in their VW camper van on a four-month journey to find, and travel down, the Pan American Highway.
Thankfully it existed. Because the drinks industry would be a different place right now without Cooper’s experiences in Oaxaca, not least the ritualistic spirit of mezcal he discovered. Before Cooper, the wider world had little idea this crafted, organic, 100% agave product existed.
But the story of Mr. Mezcal was a few years in the making. Make that decades.
F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal Hall Of Fame, September 2015
The Spirit Journal Hall Of Fame Class Of 2015: Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal
We are delighted to announce that Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is being inducted into F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal Hall of Fame, Class of 2015. Celebrating its twentieth year of success, Del Maguey is one of the few spirits brands that has literally defined and stimulated the emergence of an entire category. Started in 1995 by renowned New Mexico artist Ron Cooper, Del Maguey has in two decades introduced the world to the smoky splendor and uniqueness of some of Mexico’s and the Western Hemisphere’s most iconic artisanal distillates, spirits that make a compelling argument for terroir, meaning libations that are reflective of their place of origin.
The induction of Del Maguey is to recognize the overarching achievement of it as a pivotal influencer of the highest order in a crowded spirits marketplace. That is why Del Maguey becomes the seventeenth member of F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal Hall of Fame.
Playboy, September 2015
Del Maguey Madrecuixe Mezcal ($100)
Mezcal maybe be one of the hottest spirits on the scene today, but Del Maguey has been importing amazing agave spirits to the US since 1990. Founder Ron Cooper scours the countryside of Oaxaca looking for tiny palenques making what he calls “liquid art,” and he has assembled an impressive stable of 18 unique bottlings.
This one is from Del Maguey’s higher-end “Vino de Mezcal” series, made from wild-growing madrecuixe agave in remote San Luis del Rio. It’s an exceptionally “green”-tasting mezcal, with notes of herbs and fresh-mown grass backed up by tropical fruits and a silken mouthfeel.
Vogue, August 2015
Move Over, Tequila: Why Artisanal Mezcal Is on the Rise
Mexico’s most iconic liquid export has long been tequila. But before tequila, there was mezcal. This ancient spirit, distilled from the agave plant, is made in remote mountain villages around Mexico. Once misunderstood as little more than moonshine, mezcal started gaining a cultish following a few years ago for its intense, smoky flavors and the hyper-artisanal way it’s made. Today, mezcal is having its moment. “There is this romantic quality to it,” says Ivy Mix, a partner in Leyenda, a new cocktail bar in Brooklyn inspired by Latin American flavors. “Mezcal tastes rustic, like it has a story behind it. You look at pictures of the guy and his burro out in the agave fields and it looks like a postcard. And people are, like, ‘Hey, I want to drink a postcard!’” After waiting so long for the main ingredient, traditional mezcal is produced with great care in extremely small batches in rustic open-air distilleries. The heart of the agave is roasted in underground pits, sometimes over several days, then crushed either by hand with a mallet or with a tahona: a two-ton stone carved out of volcanic rock that gets pulled along by a mule, horse, or donkey. Once the agave juices are collected, they are fermented naturally in open wooden or concrete tanks, then distilled in small copper or clay pot stills. The resulting spirit can be potent, oftentimes well over 90 proof compared with tequila’s standard 80 proof. But it’s meant to be sipped rather than slammed and a little goes a long way in a cocktail.
Bottles to Try
Ivy Mix of Leyanda shares her three favorite takes on the artisanal spirit:
A refreshing take on a Mai Tai served with a pretty orchid garnish makes for a dreamy introduction to mezcal.
- 1 oz. Appleton Estate Reserve Rum
- 1 oz. Del Maguey VIDA San Luis Del Rio mezcal
- 1/2 oz. Orgeat Works T’Orgeat Toasted Almond syrup
- 1/2 oz. Curacao Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
- 3/4 oz. lime juice
- 1/4 oz. simple syrup Build in a rocks glass with crushed ice.
- Garnish with an orchid, mint sprig, and lime wheel.
CBS, August 2015
Rick Bayless, The Dish on CBS
Chef Rick Bayless is celebrated for his award-winning Mexican cuisine – but it’s his interests outside the kitchen that had food publication Eater recently asking, “Is Rick Bayless the most interesting man in the world?”
Margarita de Mezcal
- Makes 8 6-ounce margaritas
- 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup mezcal (I love all the single-village Del Maguey mezcals)
- 1/3 cup brandy (an inexpensive brandy is fine here)
- 1 teaspoon Peychaud bitters
- A lime half for moistening the glass rims
- Coarse (Kosher) salt
- Ice cubes (you’ll need a generous quart–small ones are best)
- Make the base. In a large pitcher, stir together the lime juice, sugar and 3/4 cup water until the sugar has dissolved. Add the mezcal, brandy and bitters. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
- Shake and serve.
Moisten the rims of 3 6-ounce martini glasses with the cut side of the lime half. Spread coarse salt on a small plate, then upend the glasses into the salt to crust the rims. Fill a cocktail shaker about ¾ full of ice and measure in ¾ cup of the mezcal margarita for 3 drinks. Cover and shake for about 15 seconds to thoroughly chill the mixture–that’s how long it takes for the perfect amount of ice to melt into the drink. Strain into the prepared glasses and you’re ready to offer a unique experience. Finish the remaining margaritas in the same way.
The Many Varietals of Mezcal
This wild variety can take up to 20 years to reach maturity.
The result of such a long wait is typically a candied aroma, but arroqueño can also be earthy and often has a bitter chocolate note on the finish.
Del Maguey, one of the first brands to give the world traditional mezcal, offers an arroqueño that is just as much dessert as it is fresh greens.
The New York Times, June 2015
A Brooklyn Bartender Inspired by Guatemala
Ivy Mix has been a competitive equestrian. She has run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. She has smuggled mezcal over the Guatemalan border.
Ms. Mix, the 29-year-old co-owner and head bartender at Leyenda, a new Latin-themed cocktail bar in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is a powerful female presence in New York’s male-dominated cocktail scene, as well as a mentor to female bartenders across the country as a founder of Speed Rack, a national cocktail competition for women.
During a term in Antigua, Guatemala, Ms. Mix fell in with a group of expatriates at a place called Café No Sé. She ran up a tab so large, she said, she had to work to pay it off. Nevertheless, she had her first gig as a bartender. She fell in love with Guatemala and has returned year after year.
Guatemala also figures in a signature drink at Leyenda, the Tia Mia, a play on the Mai Tai (and its anagram). Translated as “my aunt,” the cocktail is one Ms. Mix created in honor of a woman she met in Antigua and who inspires her to this day. “She lives part time in Paris, part time in Mexico, and she goes to Guatemala,” Ms. Mix said. “She’s got it figured out.”
Ms. Mix’s parents hoped she would become an artist, and it took a while for her father to come around to the idea of his daughter making a career behind the bar. “I think he said: ‘Well, it’s in the last name. I guess someone had to,’ ” Ms. Mix said.
“Besides,” she said, “bartending is my art practice now.”
- 1 ounce Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
- 1 ounce Appleton VX Rum
- ¾ ounce lime juice
- ½ ounce orgeat (almond) syrup
- ½ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a chilled glass. Top with crushed ice and mix for dilution. Finish with garnish of mint sprig, lime wheel and orchid blossom.
Playboy Magazine, June 2015
Drink It, Don’t Overthink It
We’re officially over the pre-prohibition-drinks schtick, and so are America’s best bartenders. Let us raise a glass to the simpler, smarter cocktail.
Sipping a shot of booze alongside a beer is a seemingly simple pastime, but the combo – making waves at bars across the country – actually creates alluringly complex flavors. We tapped shot-and-beer specialist Erick Castro, bartender at Boilermaker in New York’s East Village, to give us a perfect pair.
Del Maguey Vida Mezcal & Liefman Fruitesse
Robustly smoky mezcal is tempered by a cherry-forward Belgian fruit beer.
Wall Street Journal, May 2015
More Women In New York Are Stirring, Shaking And Pouring
There’s a shake-up happening within New York’s bartending culture—and it has nothing to do with ice.
In 2014, some of the city’s most prestigious bars and restaurants named women to head-bartender and beverage-director positions, including Dead Rabbit (Jillian Vose), Death & Co (Eryn Reece), Ai Fiori (Jen Gordon) and Cosme (Yana Volfson).
Bar veteran Julie Reiner, often credited along with Audrey Saunders as one of the pioneering women in New York’s craft-cocktail boom, recalls a time when women looking for jobs were only offered waitress spots. As the movement was getting started, new bar owners tended to lean on historically accurate turn-of-the-century motifs, such as male-only bar staffs.
Ms. Reiner, who opened Flatiron Lounge and Clover Club, will soon launch a new Brooklyn bar with Clover Club veteran Ivy Mix as head bartender. Called Leyenda, the pan-Latin cocktail parlor is scheduled to open its doors in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens the week of May 25.
Offerings will include the Tia Mia, which spotlights Del Maguey Vida mezcal, and the Shadow Boxer, which features with Yaguara cachaça.
Ms. Reiner and others credit Ms. Mix with helping nudge more women into the spotlight. Ms. Mix, along with Lynnette Marrero, co-founded Speed Rack, a national female-only bartending competition, in 2011 as a way to discover more female stars and raise money for charity.
James Beard Foundation, April 2015
The revival of mezcal as a celebrated spirit was anything but an overnight success. Ron Cooper, nominated for the Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits professional, has worked tirelessly for the last two decades to bring the traditions of Oaxaca to the global market through his company, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal. Read the full interview to learn more about Del Maguey’s humble origins, Cooper’s devotion to tradition, and how he dedication to highlighting and supporting the local Mexican distillers has transformed mezcal into the darling of craft bartending.
Punch, March 2015
The Next Frontier in Barrel-Aged Craft Beer
Once an obscure beer geek obsession, beers aged in unorthodox barrels—from mezcal and aquavit barrels to those that once held Tabasco or Boulevardiers—have become the new frontier.
Aaron Goldfarb on what’s working, what isn’t and what the future holds.
If smooth and sweet barrels make the most sense for barrel-aging, I’ve conversely found barrels that once housed really intense spirits—like, say, single-malt scotch—don’t work quite as well. While the harsh, smoky flavors of scotch may taste great on their own, they don’t seem to mesh well with beer. It was a surprise, then, when Browning and Brooklyn Brewery found some success last year with another smoky spirit’s barrels. The brewery aged their Local 1 Belgian golden ale in a Del Maguey mezcal barrel for six months, creating San Luis Del Rio, a smoky yet fruity offering unlike any beer ever produced.
Unfortunately, brewmaster Garrett Oliver was only able to land a single mezcal barrel, so the beer never saw distribution and exists only as a “Ghost Bottle” served at special tasting events. That’s another reason the Third Wave of barrel-aging is taking so long to take off. As tough as it’s become to get bourbon barrels, getting “other” barrels may be even more difficult. That aforementioned Del Maguey mezcal barrel actually started its life as a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel, and the only reason Brooklyn Brewery was able to secure it was because Oliver has a friendly relationship with Del Maguey founder Ron Cooper.
Food & Wine, March, 2015
This Is The Most Sophisticated Blue Cocktail Recipe You Will Ever Try
When he opens Porchlight on Monday, New York City restaurateur and Shake Shack czar Danny Meyer will premiere both his first bar ever and one of the best blue cocktails we’ve ever tried.
Developed by in-house bar pros Mike Shain and Nicholas Bennett, the Gun Metal Blue—made with Mezcal Vida, peach brandy, lime juice, cinnamon syrup and blue curaçao—looks ready for spring break. Even though it’s served in a large, elegant coupe, the drink is very, very blue—think 7-Eleven blue raspberry Slurpee blue. And when you see a blue drink like that, your brain immediately thinks: too sweet! But then you bring the drink up to your nose, and you catch a smoky hit of mezcal.
Then you taste it. There’s also the vegetal notes from the mezcal, a touch of acidity and a warm, rounded finish. Nothing stereotypically “blue” about it. This isn’t just a great cocktail, it’s a mind teaser. Because every time you go to take another sip, you expect it to be saccharine sweet, and instead you taste something fantastic. Panic. Sip. Enjoy. Repeat. Here’s the recipe.
Gun Metal Blue
By Mike Shain and Nicholas Bennett
Makes 1 drink
1 1/2 ounces Mezcal Vida
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce blue curaçao
1/4 ounce Combier Crème de Pêche
1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup (at Porchlight, bartenders infuse this syrup with gentian root for a light bitter flavor)
Orange peel coin, for garnish
Shake the mezcal, lime juice, curaçao, peach liqueur and cinnamon syrup with ice. Strain into a coupe. Express the orange peel over the drink (experienced home mixologists can flame it), drop the peel into the cocktail and serve.
Philly Voice, February, 2015
Mezcal Cocktails To Ward Off The Winter Chill
For several years now, mezcal has been gaining in popularity in Mexico, and the United States.These days you’re likely to find it at well-stocked bars and many restaurants around the city. Like its cousin tequila, Mezcal invokes memories of a Mexican vacation but Mezcal is better for cold weather drinking because of its distinctive warm smokiness.
Mezcal has a rich, centuries-long history, and for quality brands the production methods haven’t changed. It’s still made by hand in small batches. That smoky flavor typical of most mezcals, is a result of farmers cooking the piñas (cores) of the agave plants in underground pits.
If you’re not already on the mezcal bandwagon, the best way to get to know mezcal is in a cocktail.
Charlie Was A Sinner’s El Conquistador
When manager, Pete Venuto looked for a spirit to pair with fresh carrot, he and his team at Midtown Village vegan lounge found the perfect match in Del Maguey VIDA.
Both the carrot and the mezcal bring earthiness to the El Conquistador ($12) balanced with blanco tequila, lime juice and agave nectar.
The feel-good elixir is served in a coupe rimmed with salt and Espelette pepper.
Charlie Was A Sinner, 131 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia (267) 758 5372.
Emmanuelle’s A Plethora of Piñatas
Head bartender Phoebe Esmon contends that mezcal is a much more flexible spirit than many people believe, and she makes a case for its versatility with two excellent takes at this Northern Liberties bar.
A Plethora of Piñatas ($14), a guest favorite, is a well-balanced variation on a Daisy cocktail with Del Maguey VIDA, Meletti Amaro, lime juice, house pineapple preserves, smoked rosemary tincture and agave nectar.
Emmanuelle, 1052 N. Hancock St. #67, Philadelphia (267) 639-2470
Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.’s Temporary Phase
At this Rittenhouse stalwart now led by head bartender Sara Justice, vanilla- and honey-tinged Del Maguey Minero Mezcal mingles with blackberry syrup in The Temporary Phase ($15).
Bartender Adam Ravitz, who developed the cocktail, balances it with Siembra Azul Reposado Tequila and Amaro Nonino. But the fun part is the addition of a very Philly tincture made from roasted long hot peppers, which add vegetal flavor and, of course, some heat.
Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. 112 S. 18th St., Philadelphia (267) 467-3277
Tequilas’ Oaxaca Old Fashioned
When owner David Suro-Piñera upgraded the cocktail program at his Locust Street institution a few years ago, he turned to his friend Phil Ward, co-owner of the agave-centric Mayahuel in New York City, for help.
Ward famously invented the Oaxaca Old Fashioned in 2007 when he was behind the bar at Death & Co. in the East Village. Tequilas’ iteration ($13) features Suro-Piñera’s own Siembra Azul Reposado Tequila, Del Maguey Mezcal, agave nectar and Angostura bitters. “It’s one of my favorite cocktails,” says Suro-Piñera. “It really shows how well agave spirits can coexist.”
Tequilas, 1602 Locust St. (215) 546-0181
Drinks International, January 2015
Del Maguey Is The No.1 Spirit Brand In The World
World’s 50 Best Bar Brands Report 2015
Yes, that is a mezcal topping our top ten spirits list. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised — this stuff is catnip to the bartending fraternity and Del Maguey is the brand that prompted the feeding frenzy.
Since we’ve been asking bartenders what they prize the most, the list has generally been topped by big but quality-oriented brands such as Tanqueray and Havana Club, so a minnow entering the list at number one is some achievement.
Artist Rob Cooper founded Del Maguey in 1995 with a vision to show the world the best of the Mexican spirit. His organic Single Village Mezcal concept draws on age-old techniques and knowledge, and showcases the individual terroir of each village.
Bartenders who took part in the survey are convinced. The American bar in London told us Del Maguey was “reflective of an area and culture”, while Milan’s Rita & Cocktails said the brand has the best connection of any product to terroir.”
Bartenders tell us they love the range’s multitude of single-village mezcals and different agave types, and are happy to take them down naked or chasing a beer. But the expressoin that has really plugged a gap no one knew they had is Vida — the first entry level, mixable mezcal.
Chicago Tribune, January 2015
Drinking And Choosing A Mezcal, Tequila’s Smoky Cousin
Some mezcals are surprisingly unsmoky. We prefer the smokiness of Del Maguey…generally available on store shelves and behind bars.
“One of the beauties of mezcal is the length of time it takes the agave to mature for harvest, usually eight to 14 years,” says Duane Nakamura, beverage director for Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurants in Washington. “When you distill it into a spirit, you’re truly getting the essence of that terroir more so than with a lot of other spirits.”
“A mezcal for sipping can be different than one to be mixed in a cocktail,” says Sol Trece, bar manager at La Cuevita in Los Angeles. “You can use the spirit as an accent by adding it as a float in the end, for a kick of smoke. If you’re looking to do an accent, I favor a mezcal that’s not too high in alcohol and strongly aromatic. However, if mezcal is to be the dominant flavor, I’d choose one that’s higher proof with substantial smokiness to cut through the other ingredients.”
Liquor.com, December 2014
Best Mezcals for $40 Or Less
Ten Years ago you’d be hard-pressed to find anything other than a dusty $20 bottle of worm-drowning swill in the mezcal sectionof your liquor store.
Today you can easily drop $100 on wild-harvested, hand crafted, tepextate or tobala from any number of industrious importers.
Vida is far and away the most commonly found mezcal behind the bar, primarily because of its Del Maguey lineage: the company’s founder, Ron Cooper, pretty much singlehandedly brought mezcal to the U.S. back in the ’90s.
It’s also popular because it hits the sweet spot between smoke, spice, agave and earthiness. About half the price of its next cheapest sibling, the mixology-friendly Vida’s sweet-savory balance plays nice in any cocktail.
New York Times, December 2014
Mezcal Adds Element of Surprise to This Riff on Mai Tai
Featured in Holy Smoke
1 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
1 oz. Appleton Reserve Estate Rum
.5 oz. Pierre Ferrand Orange Curaçao
.5 oz. Orgeat Works T’Orgeat Toasted Almond Syrup
.75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
.25 oz. Simple Syrup
Pellet or Cobbed Ice
Orchid for Garnish
Method: Shake the liquid ingredients quickly with ice, strain into a large rocks glass over the pellet or cobbled ice and garnish with the orchid, lime wheel and mint sprigs.
Los Angeles Times, December 2014
Holiday Gift Guide: Handmade
Widely available Ron Cooper’s Single Village Mezcal Collection, under the Del Maguey label would make a fine gift for any spirits lover. We’re partial to the one from Chichicapa, a village southwest of Oaxaca for its complex smokiness and sweet tropical notes. The maker is Faustino Garcia Vasquez. For sipping, not shooting and too fine for cocktails.
Playboy, November 2014
Snap Out Of Your Hangover With A Ritualistic Snakebite
Snakebites are simple to make but you have to do it right. First pour the cider into the glass and then float the IPA on top. That way you drink the hearty beer first and finish with the refreshing cider. Flinn Pomeroy, bartender at Sweetwater Social, in New York City’s Greenwich Village pairs the drink with a shot of smokey mezcal served in a customary tiny clay pot known as a copita. “In New York City we drink a lot of mezcal,” she says. If she or her fellow bartenders show up to work hungover, the first thing they do is take a shot of the comforting spirit. “Mezcal just kind of feels like home. We drink it with each other. We drink it with customers. We know what it’s going to taste like and what the end result is going to be. It’s sort of a ritualistic thing.”
One Very Last Important Step
“Before shooting mezcal you have to look each other in the eyes and say the traditional mezcal cheers: Stigibeu”, Pomeroy says. The ancient Zapotec toast salutes “the collective lifeforce” of you, your friends and the earth.
10 oz. Ithaca Beer Co. Flower Power IPA
10 oz. Magners Irish Cider
1 oz. Del Maguey Minero Mezcal
Method: Pour cider into a pint glass and top with IPA. Drink the shot of mezcal out of a copita.
Market Watch, November 2014
Drinks For Carnivores
Meat adds savory notes to cocktails and spirits
The Spanish restaurant Jaleo, part of the chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, has offered Del Maguey Pechuga for years ($35 a 1.5 ounce pour, served neat). “We’ve known Ron for a long time, and we always loved his product,” says ThinkFoodGroup research and development director, Rubén García.
“Two years ago we went to a little village where they produce Pechuga, and I said “What happens if we put Jamón Ibérico in the still instead of a chicken breast?” ThinkFoodGroup sent Cooper a leg of the appellation-protected Spanish Ham, made from black-footed Iberian pigs that are fed on acorns, and the resulting small-batch Del Maguey Ibérico mezcal ($200 a 750-ml bottle) launched last year.
ThinkFoodGroup received the entire first batch of the mezcal ($39 a 1.5 ounce pour), which has become a major draw. “A lot of people come in and ask for it,” García says. “There is such a high component of fat in the Ibérico ham that it melts into the liquid and gets emulsified with the alcohol, so when you taste or smell it, you get all the smokiness and a little bit of nuttiness.”
The meaty spirit won the “Best New Product” award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, and Cooper intends to keep making a new batch every fall. “For almost 20 years, everyone has asked me which mezcal is my favorite,” Cooper says. “I always said, “How can you say which one of your kids is your favorite?” But finally, with Ibérico, I have a favorite. It’s just so fun to drink.”
Bloomberg, October 2014
Drink This Now: Meaty Mezcals
Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, has built his brand around that “single village” theme, showcasing how variations in technique and terroir impact mezcal’s character, even from village to village within Oaxaca. Not surprisingly, every producer has their own pechuga recipe.
Del Maguey’s pechuga starts with its already robust, bell pepper-y Minero mezcal. To that, the producer adds wild mountain apples and plums, red plantains, pineapples, plus a handful of almonds and a few pounds of uncooked rice. Next, a whole raw chicken breast (skin removed by bones intact) is suspended by strings within the rustic still before the next round of distillation begins.
If chicken isn’t your thing, how about pork? Earlier this year, Cooper introduced Del Maguey Iberico, made with Iberico Bellota ham, the legendary ham made from acorn-fed, black-footed Iberico pigs in Spain. It’s a limited release and I haven’t tried it yet — its been described to me as a major umami bomb, with a touch of salinity that seems characteristic of all the meat-made mezcals.
Frankly, it had been a while since I had sipped on a pechuga mezcal, so I returned to Mayahuel, which has several pechugas in house, as well as a precious bottle of Iberico. For old time’s sake, I ordered the Del Maguey.
As a warmth settled over my torso, I recognized this hauntingly familiar sense memory. It wasn’t the lusty or bloodlusty mezcal response I had anticipated, but it was no less visceral — an animal-sense, emotionally provoked from deep inside. It may have been 49% alcohol, but this pechuga felt as comforting as a bowl of chicken soup.
Epicurious, October 2014
It’s Time To Start Drinking Mezcal
Once you grasp the basic idea of what mezcal brings to mixed drinks, it’s time to explore what different bottles of mezcal can bring to the table.
The most obvious place to start is with a margarita, like this Beachfire Margarita — sweet, smoky and satisfying.
Just as with tequila, there are aging-related classifications out there — joven (aged under two months), reposado (aged two months to a year), and anejo (aged one to three years). Sipping straight mezcal, without any of the distractions of other spirits or mix-ins, is the best way to hone in on what you really prefer.
To get started, grab a bottle of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal: its slightly lower proof and reasonable $34 price point make it the perfect starter mezcal for anyone looking to work the spirit into the home bar rotation.
The Beachfire Margarita
From Artisanal Cocktails by Scott Beattie
3/4 Ounce Tequila, 100% Agave Silver
3/4 Ounce Mezcal, (preferably Del Maguey)
1/2 Ounce Cointreau
3/4 Ounce Lime Juice
1/4 Ounce Simple Syrup (1:1, sugar:water)
Garnish: Salt And Lime Wheel
Rub a slice of lime around the rim of a Collins glass. Press lip of the glass into a plate of coarse salt. Shake off any excess and set aside. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain over ice into prepared Collins glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Playboy Magazine, October 2014
Use Mezcal To Make A Refreshing Fall Cocktail
Everything tastes better smoked. Liquor is no exception, which is why mezcal — the Mexican spirit made from agave plants roasted in earthen ovens — is taking over the top shelves of America’s best bars. Spicy, smooth and robustly flavored, it’s superb for sipping or for mixing in deeply layered cocktails. We tapped Philip Ward of New York’s Mexican-mixology bar Mayahuel to harness mezcal’s power for a refreshing cocktail.
Ron’s Dodge Charger: An homage to Ron Cooper (car buff and founder of Del Maguey mezcal), the drink is perfect for toasting with on a starry autumn night.
Ron’s Dodge Charger
1.5 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal infused with Chiles de Arbol
1 oz. of Fresh Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 oz. Agave Nectar
Rim a chilled cocktail glass with smoked salt. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for a good five seconds. Strain into a glass and enjoy.
Mezcal That Will Set Your Cocktails Afire
Del Maguey Chichicapa, $70
The Del Maguey brand is mezcal’s matador. Chichicapa’s earthy pepper and spice make for profound cocktails.
The Robb Report, September 2014
Del Maguey Creates A Special Mezcal For Michael Mina
For the Del Maguey San Luis del Rio Michael Mina Special Cask Finish the distiller took its white (unaged) mezcal – sourced from the village of San Luis del Rio, two hours south of Oxaca – and finished it in an oak barrel from the Jarnac commune of southwestern France that previously held a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa Valley, Calif. While the white mezcal offers notes of citrus, honey and pepper upon first taste, the Mina version initially exhibits a palate of Cabernet tannins, which precede a biting mezcal smokiness and an oak-rich and earthy finish replete with leather and ripe cherries, as well as a lingering hint of sweet marmalade.
Men’s Journal, September, 2014
Tequila’s Rebel Cousin
Years ago if you wanted good, artisanal mezcal from Oaxaca, it was easy enough to find. Your local Mezcalero would fill your empty Coke bottle for a few pesos. Of course, if you didn’t live there you were out of luck.
Since then, some things have fortunately remained the same. Sure there are commercial producers pumping out mezcal in factories. But the good stuff is still made in the campo.
No burros pull millstones at this Palenque in Santa Catarina Minas, but Don Florencio’s still is practically Paleolithic – it’s made out of clay and bamboo tubes.
The resulting spirit has lovely minerality and faint sweetness.
TimeOut Chicago, August, 2014
6 Bars In Chicago For A Boilermaker Or A Shot And Beer
At Fulton Market Kitchen, there are seven boilermakers from which to choose. Ranging $6 – $13 they include FmktK Mixology (Coors Banquet Beer and bourbon), Shriners Lodge (Stiegl Grapefruit Radler and Jeppson’s Malort) and a rotating guest’s boilermaker, currently New York bartender Jaquin Simo’s watermelon wheat beer and Vida Mezcal pairing.
New York Times, July, 2014
Keep Your Head On Hot Days
In recent months of sampling, I’ve learned (one drink at a time) that a well-conceived, well-made beer cocktail can be a wonderful thing. Mayahuel has one of the most unlikely beer cocktails I’ve encountered, the Yukon Cornelius, an oddball case of characters including peach liqueur, (Del Maguey Vida) mezcal and aquavit.
Adapted from Natasha David, Mayahuel, New York
3/4 ounce aquavit, preferably Krogstad
3/4 ounce Del Maguey Vida
1/2 ounce peach liqueur, preferably Giffard
1/2 ounce ginger syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wheel for garnish
2 ounces Modelo Especial Beer, candied ginger for garnish
In a cocktail shaker three-quarters filled with ice, combine all ingredients except beer, lemon wheel and ginger. Shake until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into 10-ounce highball glass half-filled with ice. Top with beer. Stir briefly with bar spoon. Garnish with lemon and ginger.
The Spirits Business, July, 2014
Mezcal is truly taking off in the on-trade and Del Maguey Ibérico mezcal represents the extent of emerging innovation in the category.
Made with Ibérico de Bellota ham, Del Maguey’s Ibérico mezcal takes savoury, gastronomic spirits to the next level.The mezcal is created through a collaboration between Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal’s founder, and Chef José Andrés, and his team at ThinkFoodGroup.
For more information click here.
Live Taos, August, 2014
Ron Cooper Finds Mezcal, Or Rather, It Finds Him
Held annually in New Orleans, Tales of Cocktail is the world’s premier spirits festival that brings together an international cast of the brightest spirits professionals who engage in seminars and intense competitions for several days – a sort of “Fight Club” of the best from the cocktail world.
The Tales victory was particularly sweet for Cooper, due to the fact that for seventeen years Del Maguey scratched and clawed to stay alive, often doing so merely by the occasional profits Cooper reaps from selling his art.
However, to Cooper, there is no differentiation between studio art and the art of mezcal production.
The mezcal that won him “Best New Product” at Tales this year was the incomparable Iberico Single Village that is a riff on his “Pechuga” mezcal, produced in an ancient Moorish technique brought over by the Spanish where the mezcal is distilled three times with wild mountain fruits, almonds, white rice and a whole chicken breast.
Click here for the full article.
BarBizMag, July, 2014
From the heart of the maguey, and the soul of the village, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal presents a new arrival to its Special Cask Finish Series, Del Maguey Mina Group Blend, released in the USA exclusively for Mina Group, a San Francisco-based restaurant management company led by James Beard award-winning Chef and Owner Michael Mina. Just 450 bottles of the Single Village Mezcal micro-expression were created and will be available exclusively in Mina Group’s 20 restaurants nationwide.
With many inspirations from fine friends along the way, this partnership continues to build upon Del Maguey founder Ron Cooper’s very first Special Cask Finish experiment in 2007, created for Park Avenue Liquor in New York City, NY.
“The Del Maguey Special Cask Finish Series is the result of our passion for experimentation, bringing flavor experiences to the world,” says Ron. “Michael Mina is always seeking out innovative ways to bring harmony and balance into his life, and into his restaurants.”
The Daily Meal, March, 2014
The 60 Coolest People in Food & Drink 2014
New York’s Guggenheim Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are but two of the institutions in which Cooper’s light sculptures and other environmental installations can be found — but after he discovered true artisanal mezcals in the Oaxaca countryside in 1990, he saw a different kind of light and made it his mission to bring these unique and powerful spirits to an American audience. The label he founded, Del Maguey, doesn’t traffic in those mild, anonymous mezcals that are trying to be tequila; these bottlings are produced absolutely by hand, from agave hearts roasted in stone pits and ground in horse-powered mills, and they’re full-bodied, often smoky, and flavorful as hell. Cooper imports seven kinds of mezcal, some of which are fermented for up to a month.
“It takes time, but we’re extracting flavor,” he told Food and Wine. To help ensure that this traditional treasure won’t be lost, the affable Cooper has even founded a nonprofit organization with a name almost as mouth-filling as Del Maguey’s products: the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the Producing Communities of Maguey and Cultural Rescue of Mezcal.
Los Angeles Times, March 27th, 2014
Mezcal, the “moonshine of Mexico,
grows in appreciation, availability
By S. Irene Virbila
Terroir. Wild yeasts. Elevation. Who knew these terms could apply to mezcal as easily as to wine. In fact, “the vocabulary of mezcal is more like the vocabulary of wine than spirits,” explains Ron Cooper, the California artist who founded Del Maguey single-village mezcals 20 years ago when the beverage wasn’t on anybody’s radar.
“We’re talking about terroir, about mouth feel,” he says. “We’re talking about aroma, nose.”
Unlike tequila, which is always made from blue agave, mezcal can be made from 28 varieties of the plant, only four of which can be domesticated, though espedin agave is the one that can be cultivated most consistently.
Wine Enthusiast, December 3rd, 2013
Top 50 Spirits
Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Arroqueño (Mexico; Del Maguey, Ranchos de Taos, NM). Del Maguey has built a stellar reputation with their single-village mezcals, and this beauty is a case in point. Sprightly aromas of pine, rosemary and sage lead into savory, citrusy and even meaty ﬂavors, with a mouthwatering brininess and a smoky ﬁnish that’s reminiscent of Islay Scotch. Pair this velvety mezcal with seafood or aged cheese. abv: 49% Price: $100.
Los Angeles Times, February 4th, 2014
Using the planet’s most expensive ham to flavor liquor:
Del Maguey Iberico mezcal
By S. Irene Virbil Ever heard of pechuga, the mezcal from Oaxaca made by suspending a chicken breast (pechuga) from the top of the still? Forget about the worm in the bottle. That’s just folklore. But this, this is something wild and woolly from the back country.
Ron Cooper, the Venice artist and adventurer who jump-started the whole mezcal craze in this country with Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal almost two decades ago, was showing José André’s creative director Ruben García the pechuga process at the village of Santa Catarina Minas. It involves taking double distilled mezcal and distilling it for a third time with wild fruit, almonds, white rice and that chicken breast (skin removed) suspended by strings.
Like Andrés, García is an elBulli alum, and has a natural scientific bent. “We went out to Santa Catarina Minas to meet the old man that makes our pechuga in an old-style clay still with bamboo tubing,” says Cooper. More…
FoxNews.com, December 5th, 2013
Top 10 spirits in the world
Del Maguey Pechuga, $200
“One hundred percent certified organic and artisanal mezcal is all Del Maguey’s founder Ron Cooper produces. The trendsetting visionary started changing the way the world viewed mezcal back in 1995. The Pechuga hails from ancient recipes passed to Del Maguey through the Zapotec people of Southern Mexico.
Starting with a double distillate of Minero mezcal, they add 100 kilos of plums, apples, plantains, almonds, pineapple, and a handful of white rice as they begin a third distillation. The last touch is the hanging of a pechuga (chicken breast), cleaned and on the bone, above the distillation. The final product is unique with a hearty mezcal smokiness combined with fresh fruit aromas, an ocean-like breeze and a hint of basil. As complex as it sounds, its flavors meld together as a family — and fittingly, it is best served among family and friends.”
Sourthwest Airlines Spirit Magazine, November 2013
Alexandra Bookless, Head Bartender: The Passenger
Esquire Magazine, October 2013
The State of Drinking is Amazing
By David Wondrich
The Booze of Our Time…
“Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals. The best agave spirits 16th century technology can make, at a store near you.”
DrinkUpNY, August 31, 2013
The Vida Sleep Cocktail
By Warren Bobrow, the Cocktail Whisperer
“Vida, Vida, I love you. From the moment that I touched you to my lips I knew that Del Maguey “Vida” San Luis Del Rio Mezcal would be a favorite in my home. If it’s citrus that you like along with that ever-present aroma of the earth, then you’ve come to the right bottle. This liquid dream potion is woven along with the smoke and the fire of the many day method of cooking the agave to make a most approachable version of what we call Mezcal. And Mezcal this is- brimming with wet stones, smoked wood and bursts of lime coated chunks of raw salt…
Mezcal and Vida in particular give the flavor adventurer something to plan for their next tasty vacation! Go on a liquid driven vacation in your glass every time you swallow Mezcal.”
Download the Full Article
The Tasting Panel, July, 2013
HOW DEL MAGUEY’S RON COOPER REVIVED MEXICO’S ARTISANAL AGAVE SPIRIT
by David Ransom / photo by Adam Lerner
Download the Whole Article
Forbes Life, April 15, 2013
The EYE: Mezcal, Hold the Worm
By Richard Nalley, Forbes Staff
“This is one of the great connoisseur’s drinks of the world, in any category. Produced from wild agaves harvested at high altitude, it is a seductively dislocating, subtly knit but extreme stream of sensory information.”
Del Maguey was born in 1995 when artist Ron Cooper raised $120,000 by selling half shares in bottlings from four tiny distilleries he had discovered in the backwaters of Oaxaca. What followed was “18 years of hard work converting one person at a time.” It was also 18 years that sucked in fees from his artwork, proceeds from the sale of his Taos trading post and the reinvestment of any revenue the brand generated– he estimates about $800,000 all in. Thanks to Vida, a new lower priced bottling (about $35 versus $60 plus ) and a modest U.S. mezcal groundswell, “We actually started making money in 2011.” His reaction: Invest in a new “Vino de Mezcal” series of supermicrosize lots from the deep boondocks. Explains Cooper : “That’s how I get to continue my adventure.”
bonappetit.com, February 27, 2013
Until just a few years ago, the negroni was an insiders’ secret. The classic Italian cocktail–equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, allegedly invented in 1919 and named for Count Camillo Negroni–was a secret handshake, a sign to bartenders that you knew what you liked, and how to order it.
These days, American bartenders are adding Domain de Canton ginger liqueur or Gran Classico bitter instead of Campari, swapping in mezcal for gin, adding blood-orange juice for a dash of citrusy sweetness. Young has even started bottling versions of the drink at Saxon + Parole, while the head barkeep at another New York bar is barrel-conditioning his twist on the negroni.
Jacques Bezuidenhout, Fifth Floor, San Francisco
1.25 oz. Del Maguey Tobala mezcal
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist.