LATINLOVER FOOD & TRAVEL MAGAZINE / From Oaxaca to the Lower East Side

Mezcalería Los Amantes / Bleu & Blanc

Artículo publicado por Bleu & Blanc sobre el Mezcal de Oaxaca
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Mezcalería Los Amantes /

A few nights ago we finally went for the mezcal tasting we had been eyeing out. Ever since seeing the tiny Mezcaleria Los Amantes- no more than a gap in the wall, I had been drawn in by it’s outstanding interior.
It is literally a mezcaleria like no other, dealing in superior quality artisanal mezcals. Chris and i shared three mezcals from three very different magueys (agaves) as Leon, our helpful host shared his extensive knowledge of the history and processing of mezcal in Mexico. His appreciation for the drink was clearly evident and he took time explaining everything to us in his animated way. We soon learned that the treatment of each maguey is as particular as grapes with wine and the subtle flavours of each are just as distinct. Farmers will wait between 9 and 15 years for the maguey to mature at which point the heart is cut out and the plant is no longer. The hearts are then cooked in an underground oven- theirs is 188 years old. The process is as old as time and we left there with an appreciation of the art of mezcal production and tasting. It’s  the only place in Oaxaca where you can go for an authentic mezcal tasting, no creamy alternatives, no girls in branded tank tops.

Mezcalería Los Amantes / bon appétit

Mezcalería Los Amantes
There's plenty of mass-produced mezcal available in Mexico, but at this shoebox-size bar (owned and beautifully decorated by Oaxacan painter Guillermo Olguín), only the finest artisanal mezcals, rarely seen outside the towns where they're produced, are poured, from traditional green glass bottles.
Allende 107

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Mezzed Up / A Mezcal Mansion on the LES

The time has come to think big. Yes, you cherish your hidden nooks and crannies, places to pass low-lit downtown evenings in the company of your co-conspirators. But sometimes we can all use some serious elbow room. Three floors' worth of it... Welcome to Casa Mezcal, a genuine mansion of mezcal, music, Oaxacan deities and alligator skins, opening next week on the Lower East Side. Think of it as a place to show a date your dedication to the arts: the granite facade outside explains Casa's mission as "Cine, Musica, Comida, Arte, Bar." But let's focus on the bar. As befits any three-floor mansion, there are three bars, each stocked with endless rows of rare and opaque bottles of mezcal. Start on the ground floor with a glass from the owner's private distillery in Oaxaca, primed for sipping neat. From here you could go up—to the plush gallery room overlooking Orchard Street—or down, where you'll find a movie screen and music stage, as well as a massive alligator skin splayed open on the wall. (A none-too-subtle warning to the band about what happens when management is unhappy with the performance.) Lastly comes the comida, also via Oaxaca. Yes, there will be handmade tortillas and tacos. But also available: a local delicacy of fried grasshoppers with melted cheese. Like we said, there will be tacos.

León guides the mezcal tasting-

FOOD&WINE / Oaxaca’s Art and Food Rebels

¨One of the first artists I roped in was Guillermo Olguín, who offered a towering, bannerlike painting for the show: a man hanged upside down, communing with a carrion bird. (Art in Oaxaca has become increasingly violent, now that the violence itself has evaporated.) Olguín is a famous painter, but also a connoisseur of spirits and a leader in the intellectual underground. His newest project is Mezcalería Los Amantes, a tasting room that he calls a “library of mezcal.” Made mostly in the state of Oaxaca, mezcal is distilled from the bulb at the center of the agave plant, the sugarypiña. Ingredients from the earth enter into almost every stage of the process, so mezcal ends up tasting, quite literally, like Mexico. The piñas are roasted over wood charcoal in a stone-lined pit covered in plant matter and earth, then ground, fermented in wooden vats and distilled into a husky, fiery liquid. The commercial rotgut with the worm pickled inside can be as pleasant as, oh, formaldehyde. At its best, however, mezcal is as sophisticated as the finest single malts.¨

Mezcalería Los Amantes looks like a hip alchemical laboratory, with bottles and jars of mezcal lining the tiny storefront that opens onto the street; behind the wooden bar, glass cases contain surreal curios, like a vintage mannequin. All of this is a theater for the presentation of the dozens of artisanal mezcals Olguín has discovered, as well as his own high-end brand of mezcal. Also called Los Amantes, it is now poured in top New York City bars and restaurants, like Death & Co. and Mayahuel; it is also available at Olguín’s Manhattan restaurant, Casa Mezcal.

Café Central, a mezcal-drenched, cheerfully decadent lounge with plush red curtains and upholstery, loud music, dancing and politically charged art (and artists).

By Douglas Anthony Cooper.

By Anthony Hardwick
By Anthony Hardwick
By Anthony Hardwick

I ask these questions because I had a gorgeous mezcal over the weekend from Los Amantes. It was a joven, which means it had received little aging, unlike a reposado or añejo, which, as with tequila, indicate longer aging. The aroma was subtly different from tequila, with an almost cucumber-like edge to it. On the palate it had a smoky, saline, citrus quality and was smooth and pure. I thought it was great, the equal of the best mezcals I’ve had, which have come from del Maguey...


At Los Amantes Mezcalería, a newly opened mescal-tasting bar run by the charismatic painter Guillermo Olguín, I struck up a conversation with Whitney McVeigh, a London-based artist who'd spent the past three weeks in Oaxaca studying printmaking. "I've been blown away by how much interesting art is in Oaxaca," she said to me in a lilting accent as we sipped glasses of a locally produced beeswax-scented, smoky-tasting mescal in the tiny space. The bar resembles a life-sized cabinet of curiosities, decorated with erotic art, religious paraphernalia and mescal esoterica. "I've seen more powerful paintings here than I've seen in London in years," she continued. "It's a small town, but there's a huge vibrancy to it." Having happily pinballed from gallery to museum to village workshop to artist's studio over the previous five days myself, I was inclined to agree.

Bon Appétit Magazine

Mezcalería Los Amantes There's plenty of mass-produced mezcal available in Mexico, but at this shoebox-size bar (owned and beautifully decorated by Oaxacan painter Guillermo Olguín), only the finest artisanal mezcals, rarely seen outside the towns where they're produced, are poured, from traditional green glass bottles.
Allende 107, Centro; Oaxaca, México.