Any discerning boozehound knows that tequila is sooo 2006– the alcoholic drink du jour is tequila’s smokier, sexier cousin: mezcal. And while United Staters’ newfound taste for the spirit may be killing off the very plant that makes it (agave takes a long time to grow– one of the easier varieties reaches maturity after a decade and even then only yields approximately ten bottles), mezcal’s popularity only seems to be picking up. That means that, nowadays, any self-respecting bartender will have a mezcal cocktail or two up their sleeve, mezcal old fashioneds are pretty much standard, and a bar can’t be called complete without at least one bottle of the stuff on-shelf.
Esme, the airy Greenpoint eatery that opened its doors back in 2014, has caught on to this and will be celebrating the traditional brew with what they’re calling a “mezcal BBQ bonanza” that will but the Mexican spirit front and center. With a free mezcal tasting, plus mezcal-based cocktails, tacos, and other food available for purchase and priced within the super reasonable $3 to $10 range, we’re predicting a boozy Saturday ahead.
The backyard BBQ will take place next Saturday August 27, from 1 pm onward, and will feature local food and spirits purveyors. Bruxo Mezcal, Duke’s Liquor Box, and OddFellow’s Ice Cream are in on the collab and Archestratus, the local gastronomic bookstore, will be in attendance too.
Adam Volk, one of the chefs at Esme, said that he and his friends at Duke’s Liquor Box and OddFellow’s had been brainstorming ideas to bring some north Brooklyn businesses together, and when support Bruxo Mezcal called up Duke’s to inquire about hosting a mezcal tasting, the theme was found. Sponsorship hoopla aside (see: Bruxo Mezcal’s five
FLAVORS “expressions” of mezcal) the brand’s bringing in the free booze, so we’ll take it. And Volk explained that “expressions” actually do have some basis in reality in that they serve as a way of distinguishing between the different ways in which the liquor can be aged or produced.
“To me, it’s a very interesting spirit,” Volk said. “It’s very complex, and I think it’s gaining popularity right now in the world of cocktail making.”
Until a few years ago, mezcal was a relatively unknown spirit outside of Mexico, with its much more branded cousin tequila still being widely confused for Latin-sounding imitators in bars across the United States. In many ways, mezcal is a Brooklyn hipster’s dream: it’s still made in small batches by agave farmers in Mexico, it’s organic for all intents and purposes, and the liquor continues to be distilled in the traditionally laborious, handcrafted manner that is so often mistaken as an indicator of quality.
However, in this case, mezcal speaks for itself. It’s often called the scotch of the agave-based liquors, thanks to its smooth, smoky finish. And the small-batch methods and time-intensive production methods, as well as the fact that many rural Mexican families still produce mezcal in a way that has been passed down by generations, has ensured that mezcal retains its unique flavor. You’ll have to decide whether any of that’s to your taste, and whether or not Bruxo measures up– but, again, we repeat: free tasting.
The mezcal-based cocktails, provided by Volk and his team, will include “Dark Passenger,” which is made with concord grapes and lemon. Volk will also be firing up the grill for tacos of the lamb barbacoa, chicken, and nopales/mole variety. Probably a good idea to pound some of those babies so that all that high-proof-spirit slosh will have a soft landing. And OddFellow are planning to serve some theme-loyal sweets: boozy mezcal popsicles. It’s as if your favorite childhood freezer treat grew up, studied abroad in Latin America, and came back with an oh-so-sophisticated taste for mezcal and was keen on teaching all her friends about the proper way to drink mezcal (sip it straight– sometimes with a lime slice at the ready, but never mixed in) and pronouncing the “al” with a perfectly softened vowel.
And in case you can’t remember any of the things you learned at the mezcal tasting because you had one or two “Dark Passengers” too many and became something of a Dark Passenger yourself during the cab ride home (at least you puked outside the taxi this time), not to worry. Archestratus Bookstore will be on hand to provide with all the informative literature you could possibly need. Read up and then you’ll be free to pickle your brain after.
Mezcal BBQ Bonanza is happening Saturday August 27 from 1 pm to 7 pm at Esme, 999 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint.