I am hung over.
I know, I know. It’s not clever. I have taken Alka Seltzer. The prospect of a fry up, frankly, turns my stomach. Thai food could help. But the prognosis is grim.
I am hung over because I broke The Rules.
The Rules are many. They exist for a reason: to keep you safe. And they are largely undocumented. So, to assist you, the drinking public, here are some of them:—
- Don’t drink with Australians.
- When someone says “how about tequila/mezcal shots?”, it is not a good idea.
- Don’t drink with chefs.
- A fifth martini is never a smart choice. Dorothy Parker stopped her little poem at four for a reason.
- Don’t stay for a lock-in on St. Patrick’s Day.
- Have I mentioned the thing about the tequila?
- Don’t drink with Scandinavians, especially if there’s vodka involved.
- When someone says, “Have you tried…?”, just don’t go there, it will only end in suffering.
- Don’t drink with actors.
- Don’t drink.
It’s always a pleasure to taste something new. Still more so when the chap behind it decides to bring a bottle to the house and tell you all about it. Even more of a pleasure to tell you that it’s really, really good.
Corte Vetusto offer a range of three hand-crafted mezcals, made by fourth generation mezcalero Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz. Espadín is the “entry level” bottle, if you will. But even so, it still retails from £58.95 (at The Whisky Exchange), which may seem at first glance to be a bit steep. But here’s what you get for your money: a double-distilled, bright, agave forward (that will be the espadín bit) drink that stands out from its peers by its being less smoked than your average mezcal.
This means that the creamy agave flavour sings through.
As David Shepherd, the man behind Corte Vesusto, explained it to me, it helps to think of the smoke in mezcal as something akin to the oak in chardonnay. It is something you can really over do. As a relative newcomer to mezcal, this hadn’t occurred to me before. But a mouthful of this brings home the point. There’s a clarity of flavour here I hadn’t expected, with a strange leafy-meatiness which seems to be distinctly of the agave. With green, herbaceous notes mid-mouth and a lingering spicy, almost cinnamon-bark finish, this is superior stuff.
In a not-entirely-surprising turn of events, Bacardi has upped its 30% stake in premium tequila brand Patrón to go all in on the tequila business in a deal valued at an eye-watering $5.1 billion.
I say not entirely surprising because tequila, and especially sipping tequila, has become big business in the US market while rum and coke… is not so popular.
Bacardi are a long way from being the first to buy into premium tequila. Diageo bought Casamigos from George Clooney and his partners back in June for a hearty $1 billion. Pernod Ricard went all in on Avión earlier this month. Neither brand produces anywhere near the quantity of liquor as Patrón.
Here in the UK, I still see premium tequila as a niche but growing business. It will be interesting to see where this sector of the market heads with so much financial clout behind it.
As London finally embraces decent Mexican food, I’m noticing more and more quality tequila and, more excitingly, mezcal in bars across the city. And one can’t underestimate the impact of the Wahaca chain in bringing these flavours to an increasingly curious public.
More on mezcal later in the week.