On a recent evening at Tequilas, a restaurant in Philadelphia, I was offered a small bowl of what looked like gnarled slices of dried pineapple. It was roasted agave, of the same variety that had produced the mezcal in the small glass cup in front of me on the bar.
Gary Paul Nabhan and David Suro Piñera’s “Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals” is both a paean to and lamentation for the unique intersection of nature and community that produces mezcal.
The New York Times just posted praise for our Agave Spirits book, but at the same time I want to thank the many friends who came out to the Marfa Agave Festival, Collected Works in Santa Fe and Book Works in Albuquerque for our storytelling from the book.
Owner of Tequilas Restaurant explores mezcal and the environmental implications of its new popularity
Mezcal is a centuries-old spirit with roots in ancient Mexican culture. Agave, the succulent that is roasted and mashed to create mezcal, even had its own Aztec goddess; Mayahuel, in folklore, fed the plant's sap to her 400 children, known as the Centzon Tōtōchtin, or "drunken bunnies."
Long live the bootleggers of the world. My uncles and grandfathers were proud basement distillers of Lebanese araq; my father mashed grapes with his feet in the bathtub after school when he was an adolescent. Some of our best beverages of the Americas had to go under cover during Prohibition