Mezcal is a popular alcohol that is exported from Mexico. Even though many people have sipped on a glass themselves or incorporated it in a cocktail, few stop to consider how Mezcal is made or it's importance within Mexican culture and folklore.
Known as the drink of prosperity, Mezcal is influential in Mexico for its economic, cultural, and folkloric significance. In this article, let's take a closer look at Mezcal, the drink of prosperity.What is Mezcal?
Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is made from the agave plant. Although Mezcal can be made throughout Mexico and Central America, the state of Oaxaca is known for its smoky and fruity Mezcal.
Making this drink is the same everywhere, but every distillery creates a unique flavor based on the local maguey spices available. As a result, many people say that each drink has a unique maguey, and every maguey has a region.
Mezcal is made when the trunk or pina of the agave mezcalero is distilled. The drink is traditionally cooked in an oven that is lined with stone. This causes Mezcal to have a smoky and earthy flavor with a rich body.Drinking Traditions
Traditionally, Mezcal has been drunk throughout Mexico for a variety of social activities and ceremonies. Baptisms, weddings, and funerals are three examples of when Mezcal is popularly drank. People also used to drink Mezcal to bless harvests and to fall in love or fall out of love.
As you can probably tell, a lot of the ceremonies and activities for drinking Mezcal center around the idea of prosperity, whether it be financial prosperity or relational prosperity. In sorrow or joy, Mezcal brought good fortune.The Legend of Mezcal
Mezcal is such an important drink in Mexican culture that it has a unique legend. It begins with a goddess named Mayatl, the Zapotec goddess of Mezcal. It was said that her body was like the agave trunk, but she had 4000 breasts instead of leaves. From her breasts, elixir – Mezcal – flowed.
Though she was once cold an untouchable, worms burrowed into her heart and exposed her to her feelings. She finally fell in love with a warrior named Chag. Since the warrior didn't feel worthy of the goddess, she offered him the elixir from her breasts.
After he drank, he requested to either be made a God or for her to become a woman. The legend ends here.Mezcal Today
Although Mezcal has been an important part of Mexican culture for centuries, it is now becoming popular throughout the world as well. To keep up with the demand for the drink, there are countless rows of agave plants all throughout the landscape, valleys, and sierras of Oaxaca. The same goes for the regions of Durango, Guerrero, San Lois Potosi, and Zacatecas.Distilling Process
Almost all of these regions include mountainous terrains. This makes it nearly impossible for farming to be done mechanically. To replace machines and Mayatl's breasts, skilled farmers plant, harvest, and distill the Mezcal by hand and simple machines.
Most modern distilling is done in wooden tubes or copper stills. Earthenware pots or read pipes are used in more traditional households, though. This distilling process creates the smoky flavor that Mezcal is known for.Final Thoughts
Mezcal is a deliciously smoky alcoholic beverage that plays an important role in Mexican culture and folklore. From the legend of Mayatl to the skilled farmers today, Mezcal is the drink of prosperity that has astounded many throughout the globe, and it seems to only become more and more prosperous as time goes on.