Mezcal & tequila: are they really that different?

Toca Madera Staff

6 min read

If you are a fan of excellent cocktails then chances are you already have a good understanding of what makes a cocktail great. In our case, there is no question about it: tequila and mezcal have what it takes to turn a cocktail into a memorable experience! These two are agave spirits distilled in traditional stills with deep Mexican roots. You might like these two drinks equally or even have a clear favorite, but did you know tequila is a type of mezcal? Regardless of your personal preference, don't assume that the best Mexican spirits are that different because they are actually made from a piña that is almost the same.

Let's deep dive into these savory drinks to improve your knowledge of what are arguably two of the most well-establish and smooth drinks, which you can find not only on Mexican-inspired cocktails but also on a wide variety of classic, delicious, and even high-end cocktails.

Mezcal and Tequila: Origins

The spirit of both mezcal and tequila seamlessly sparks through all kinds of occasions, making celebrations all the more special. When poured at dinners, both mezcal and tequila can add a fancy touch to your evening. If used on a toast, they will brighten up your celebration! There is just something very particular about the taste and smooth feeling that comes with these drinks and it can be traced all the way back to how they are produced.

These spirits reflect the unique terroir of their origins along with the distillation process of locals through many generations. Mezcal is traditionally distilled in the Mexican State of Oaxaca, where it is produced in large quantities. Mezcal production has since expanded to many Mexican States including Puebla, Guerrero, Durango, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, and San Luís Potosi. While mezcal is made from over 30 varieties of agave, tequila is made from a very particular type of agave: blue Weber.

How is mezcal made?

The agave plant, also called the maguey plant, takes 8 to 20 years to mature. Mezcal is made from the heart of the agave, the "piña", in mezcal distilleries called "palenques." Mezcaleros cut the piña after removing the leaves of mature agaves. The piñas, which often weigh up to 300 pounds, are then roasted for 3 days in wood-fired underground ovens that are lined with rocks. The piña lets out all of its natural sugars in this process. The cooked agave is then crushed with a "tahona" or wooden mallet to bring out its liquid. Mezcaleros can also use a stone wheel drawn by horses or donkeys to crush the piña. The liquids and fibers are placed in containers made from animal hides, leather, steel, or plastic and left to ferment with wild yeast and water for a month. After this, the resulting spirit is distilled at least twice using clay pots or copper stills. As you can see, this is a very precise process to ensure the quality of the final product, which is something we really value here at Toca Madera.

Toca Madera's mezcal bar

If all this talk about piñas, wood-fired ovens as well as wooden mallets has sparked your interest on mezcal, come by our bar to have a taste of this luxurious and delicious spirit!

Our mezcal bar is rich with smoky mezcal-based cocktails. Our menu has a very rich selection of mezcal with difference flavors, profiles and much more. You can taste Espadin, Joven, Montelobos, and much more. You will certainly enjoy a delightful experience once you try any of our tasty mezcal cocktails.

When ingredients like matcha agave, guajillo-mango shrub or even red bell pepper syrup are added to a mezcal-based cocktail, you can be sure of that quenching smoky flavor that takes you to Mexico! Our Toca Madera bar carries many mezcal cocktails that you should definitely try. Allow our expert bartenders to create art through this ancestral drink. Visit our mezcal bar for the very best agave spirits.

How is tequila made?

Tequila, on the other hand, is the scintillating liquid that comes straight from the piña of the blue Weber agave. The piña of the blue Weber is allowed to release its natural sugars to form the soul-soothing drink. Tequila was originally made by the Aztecs and used in important ceremonies before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico and employed their distillation processes to purify the original mezcal spirit so that it became what we now know as tequila. The value of tequila has been clear from the start and its role on special occasions is unquestionably part of its core.

Tequila has its roots in Mexico, particularly in Michoacán, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, and Nayarito. Any agave spirits made outside these areas are immediately designated mezcal. Once the blue Weber agave is harvested, the piña is removed and its juice extracted. It is then left to ferment. The fermentation process takes 3 to 12 days. After this, distillation begins and the resulting liquid is aged for 14 to 21 days.

Toca Madera's tequila bar

If you'd like to feel the spirit of tequila deep within your soul then visit us at out tequila bar right here in Toca Madera, Las Vegas.

Our tequila carries exquisite flavors drawn from the blue Weber agave with Joven, Plata, Reposado, Blanco, and more, adding a flavorful taste to our tequila-based cocktails. Our tequila can also be sipped neat and brings to your cup the joy of an agave spirit that nourishes your senses. We offer a wide range of tequila cocktails that you would certainly want to try. From our El Destilador to our Dos Armadillos, each cocktail presents a specific type of tequila that complements our blends and takes your senses on a flavorful journey.

Are you ready to explore our mezcal and tequila offerings? Check our menu options and visit us at our Las Vegas restaurant for an exciting experience. You can also book your reservation right now.