A traditional drink is giving a boost to the economy of one of the poorest states in Mexico. It’s called mezcal, a pungent booze made from the agave plant — the same plant used to make Mexico’s biggest spirit export, tequila. Investors north of the border are taking notice of Mezcal’s newfound popularity and are flocking to the southern state of Oaxaca, its main production hub.

The heart of mezcal country is in Oaxaca’s central valley. Small, traditional producers distill the spirit alongside their crops and farm animals. Mezcal is prepared in distilleries called palenques, barn-like structures where the agave plant’s thick, tall leaves are shaved with machetes and crushed. The sweet extract juices are then distilled into the smoky, clear alcohol.

Demand for mezcal is growing. Last year it was Mexico’s third-largest alcoholic export, behind beer and tequila, generating more than $26 million, according to the Mexican government.

America’s Growing Taste For Mezcal Is Good For Mexico’s Small Producers

Photo: Kevin Leahy/NPR
Caption: Bartender Robin Miller mixes a round of mezcal margaritas at Espita Mezcaleria in Washington, D.C. 

Toby Keith’s All-American Daiquiri

  • 2.25 oz Wild Shot Silver Mezcal
  • 1 oz Coconut Rum
  • .25 oz Triple Sec
  • .25 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 cup Piña Colada Mix
  • 1 cup Strawberry Daiquiri Mix
  • 1.25 cups Crushed Ice

Preparation:In a blender with ice add Wild Shot Silver, Malibu Rum, Triple Sec, pineapple juice and piña colada mix. Blend until thick. 

Pour half of blender in separate glass, then add Strawberry Daiquiri Mix to blender. 

Blend until mixed and pour blended strawberry mix into mason jar. 

Add the separate glass of blended product to the mason jar.

Garnish:Blue Curacao, whipped cream, cherry.