Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: The Cocktail Craze (Part 3 of 7)

el silencio cocktail
I’ve read that the worst way to bastardize mezcal is to use it in a cocktail.

Since publication that author has graciously tempered his dogmatism, likely after having realized that promoting mezcal as an ingredient in cocktails helps everyone in the broader alcohol consumption industry.

Some bartenders still believe that it is not worth it to use a high quality expensive mezcal when making a cocktail.  With all due respect, the better view as promulgated by mixologists and bartenders renowned for their cocktail prowess, is that mezcal should be considered as any other ingredient, with different qualities, varieties, etc.

ilegal cocktailThere’s a difference between red and green pepper flavors, cilantro, cucumber, etc. If you have 50 different mezcals on the shelf, consider which one would pair best with the other ingredients. Is the predominant note of the spirit fruity, floral, herbaceous, earthy, caramelized, woody, and so on? How will a particular spirit character complement the other ingredients and enhance the ultimate cocktail?  When it comes to pairing mezcal for mixing cocktails and for cooking, I’m a novice at best, though I continue to take classes with a view to honing my palate.


sombra cocktailRead our next installment on this thought provoking feature by Alvin Starkman tomorrow where he’ll discuss alcohol by volume.  


alvin starkman, Oaxaca, mezcalAlvin Starkman is a permanent resident of the city of Oaxaca, from where he operates Mezcal Educational Excursions of Oaxaca.  He can be reached at

Alvin Starkman holds an M.A. in social anthropology from Toronto’s York University and a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School.  He has written one book about mezcal (Mezcal in the Global Spirits Market:  Unrivalled Complexity, Innumerable Nuances) and over 35 articles centering upon Mexican craft beer, pulque, mezcal and sustainability, as well as a further 250 articles about Oaxacan life and cultural traditions. He co-authored a chapter in an edited volume on culinary heritage (published August, 2014), and wrote an article about brideprice in a Zapotec village (scheduled for release in autumn, 2014, in the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies).


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