Mezcal: A Brief Introduction to an Oft-Overlooked Spirit

I was looking through the selection of spirits we have here at the Club at Wingtip, and as I was sifting through the mezcals, I realized we have amassed quite a bit of that liquor, considering it is so peculiar and usually not well represented. In fact, we have 20 different expressions of this amazing spirit for our members to choose from and enjoy.

At first, all I could think to myself was, “My Lord, what have I done?” Because there is really no need to have so much mezcal in a bar that specializes in whiskies and cocktails.

But then a second thought occurred to me, “This is awesome.”

Yes, we have mezcals that range from deep and smoky and inky to delicate and seductive, and such a wide range of expressions is what all well-curated spirits selections should be.

I want our members to experience new flavors, and sometimes it is a challenge when all you have is the big beast of particular spirit. For example, imagine introducing a first time mezcal drinker to the complexity of an El Jolgorio Tobala [Pictured above left, as well as in Brian’s hand]. It’s one of my all-time favorites, an expression of mezcal at the top of its game. But this intense, smoky titan is not for the faint of heart. Surprise an uninitiated mezcal drinker with this stuff and they may never take another sip.

That being said, for a pleasant gateway mezcal, there’s Fidencio Unico [Pictured above, center], an amazing soft and subtle mezcal that teases and tickles. Plus, it’s ideal for cocktails. And for a totally different animal, there’s the Vago Cuixe [Pictured above, right], created from a breed of agave that grows as a cylindrical tree (I like to think of it as a Collins glass), rather than a spiky, bulbous pina.

If you’re still wondering why we have 20 mezcals, I answer, “Because it deserves the respect that any cognac or whisky gets. It is a crafted spirit that is unique and should be sipped by those who want to enjoy what truly great spirits are.” As Ron Cooper says on the back of every bottle of Del Maguey, “Sip, don’t shoot.”

Truer words have not been spoken about this exceptional spirit.

Members can now try the 20+ mezcals solo, or in these two featured flights available at the club. Mezcal Flight Espadin: a throw back spirit re-awakened for a the modern age, with Wahaka Joven Ensamble; Mezcal Vago; Del Maguey Chicacapas; Fidencio Peychuaga ($29). Mezcal Flight Tobala: all of the wild agave has to offer in four different Expressions, with Marca Negra; Pierde Almos; Findencio; Del Maguey ($38).

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Brian MacGregor

Wingtip Bar Director Brian MacGregor has tended bar in San Francisco for over nine years, learning his trade from such local legends as Jeff Hollinger, Jonny Raglin, and Thad Volger. Although he credits his cocktail crafting skills to these fine practitioners, he learned the art of hospitality at a very young age from his father, a career bartender in his childhood home of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brian has, for three years, creating award-winning drinks and building an extensive collection of rare and fine spirits at some San Francisco’s most acclaimed bars and restaurants such as Jardiniere, Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen, and Absinthe Brasserie and Bar. Currently, Brian resides in San Francisco with his wife, Carey, a bartender herself, their two cats and their greyhound, Pooka.

One comment

  • Great story, for sure.

    Here at Liberty in Seattle, we have ~70 mezcals, and in addition to the great ones listed there, I’d suggest La Nina de Mezcal, Mezcal Tosba, San Juan del Rio by Nolasco Spirits, El Buho…oh, I could go on and on.

    Just remember – support the traditional brands, not the industrial. All the ones mentioned are surely traditional, if not artisinal.

    Keep up the good work, thanks for spreading the word.

    Andrew Friedman
    Owner, Liberty
    Seattle, WA

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