Mezcal is a traditional Mexican spirit that is made from agave and most commonly produced in the southern region of Oaxaca. There are several varieties of agave which can be used to create mezcal, but it will always be made by extracting the heart (or “piña”) of the plant and slow-roasting it in wood-lined ovens to impart a distinctive smoky, charcoal flavour.
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There is often confusion in the difference between tequila and mezcal, but tequila is actually just a type of mezcal – like how scotch is a type of whisky. Tequila is unique in several respects, such as only being made from steamed blue agave, while most mezcal generally has a much deeper, more pungent character than its better-known offshoot.
In Mexico it is customary to drink mezcal neat. There are, however, many delicious cocktails to be made with the spirit. Mezcal can be substituted into any number of classic cocktails, particularly tequila-based serves such as Margaritas, Palomas, and El Diablos, but also famous whisky cocktails like the Sour, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan.