In the last few years, mezcal, the Mexican spirit distilled from the heart of the maguey plant, has experienced a major shift in reputation.
Primarily crafted in the state of Oaxaca, mezcals are the single-distilled, often smoky, cousin to tequila. The spirit is finally being recognized as an artisanal product that embodies the land, traditions, and people of Mexico.
Across South Florida, a number of bars and restaurants are offering mezcal as a sip-worthy solo spirit or as the main attraction in a flavorful libation. That’s especially true in Miami, where several establishments offer unique tasting flights and small-batch sips that let you explore this bold alternative to tequila.
2801 NW Second Ave., Miami
Bakan, located in Wynwood, has recently launched a mezcal tasting experience. Guided by the restaurant’s master mezcalier, Benjamin Vargas, guests are immersed in Mexico’s history and traditions via a mezcal flight. The tiered experience features three mezcal options in your choice of four categories: beginner, pro, celebration, and premium. Each flight comes with three types of mezcal. The prices vary by level, depending on whether you choose a sip or a shot. The beginner option ranges from $23 to $42, the pro from $47 to $90, the celebration from $73 to $137, and the premium from $196 to $377.
La Biblioteca de Tequila
1825 Griffin Rd., Dania Beach
A cozy space that mimics the look and feel of a library adorned with leather books, reading lamps, and even your own tequila “library card” program, La Biblioteca de Tequila (The Library of Tequila) is every tequila-lover’s dream. Located inside the Le Méridien Dania Beach hotel, the bar, a distinct space separate from the hotel’s signature restaurant, Toro Toro, offers guests a chance to partake in a diverse catalog of more than 300 premium tequilas, as well as mezcals and house-made infusions. Sophisticated imbibers can sip, sample, and even store their favorite drink. Different aging and distillation methods impart a wide swath of flavor profiles, so tastings allow for numerous ways to experience the spirits’ distinct flavors. Three tastings present vertical and premium tequilas, while a fourth, reserved specifically for mezcal, is priced at $21 per person.
127 NW 23rd St., Miami
Mayami Mexicantina offers a flight of insect-infused mezcal shots, which take you on a flavor trip you won’t find anywhere else in town. Priced at $15 per shot, options include the “Escorpion Real,” flavored with scorpion and spices; the “Mago Maguey,” flavored with worms and herbs; and the “Noisy Cricket,” with crickets and peach. While these options aren’t served as a traditional flight, there’s nothing stopping you from sampling each one and making your own insect flight.
915 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Moxy’s new intimate lounge stocks an impressive collection of more than 200 mezcals, but it can be hard to know where to start. To help guests learn more about the ancient traditions of mezcal, Mezcalista recently launched a menu of mezcal tastings led by an in-house mezcalier. In addition to its new mezcal tasting menu, Mezcalista has rolled out the perfect pairing: an original Chex Mix” snack. The chipotle-spiced mix is made with Chex cereal, chapulines (a grasshopper that’s eaten in certain parts of Mexico, including the state of Oaxaca), chicharrón, Cheddar combos, cashews, peanuts, and golden raisins dusted with Oaxacan chocolate and chipotle morita powder and a homemade chipotle marinade.