Looking for good mezcal or tequila? Madre Oaxacan Restaurant Has it for You
Mezcal sales are growing in the U.S. and with good reason. Once viewed as a novelty and overshadowed by its cousin, tequila, the spirit is staking its proper claim among sophisticated drinkers looking to expand their lust for unique flavors.
And no restaurant in Los Angeles (and few around the country) has such an array of mezcal offerings as Madre Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria, which has locations in Culver City, Torrance and West Hollywood.
Owner Ivan Vasquez is constantly adding to an already impressive display of hundreds of mezcal and tequila bottles that will satisfy the most demanding spirit connoisseur.
Mezcal or Tequila
Commonly depicted with a worm inside (not all have it and for some it’s only a gimmick), mezcal has been around for some 400 years, when the Spanish conquerors arrived in Mexico and taught the distillation process to native inhabitants.
Both drinks are distilled from agaves or magueys that are found throughout Mexico, specially the central and southern parts of the country. There are nearly 200 types of the plant and mezcal can be made from over 30 of them. Tequila can only come from Blue Agave.
Espadin agave is one of the main maguey species used in mezcal production, in part because it’s so widespread. The plant species is extremely prevalent throughout the different regions of Oaxaca that span from major bays to narrow valleys, canyons, ravine and rugged mountain ranges. The state has one of the largest biodiversities in Mexico.
Its prevalence means the taste can vary widely from bottle to bottle, depending on the location of the town where it was made.
On the other side of the spectrum is the Tobala agave plant, which many call the “king of mescals” because the maguey is more scarce and harder to harvest.
Tequila and mezcal are closely related. In essence, tequila is a type of mezcal. The spirit’s name comes from the Nahuatl word “mexcalli,” meaning “oven cooked agave,” which refers to the production process.
Mezcal is made in clay or copper pots using in-ground fire pits filled with wood and charcoal. The agave for tequila is steams in ovens above ground.
Another difference is their regional distinctions. Tequila is exclusively made in the state of Jalisco, while Oaxaca is the epicenter of mezcal production, accounting for 90 percent of the supply.
That supply of tequila and mezcal has made its way to Madre Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria, which has some of the harder to find varieties. There’s Wahaka Mezca Espadin Manzanita made from Espadin agave and comes from San Dionisio Ocotepc, Oaxaca; Pierde Almas Botanica also made with Espadin agave in Oaxaca and distilld in copper; Rey Camperu Tepextate produced with Tepextate agave and produced in Candelaria Yegole, Oaxaca from copper pots, as well as Koch Mezcal Olla de Barro made in Sola de Vega and distilled in clay pots.
If your palate is for tequila, Madre Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria also has the goods, including Siete Leguas Blanco from Atotonilco El Alto, Jalisco and distilled in copper or Fuenteseca Blanco 7 Years from Los Altos, Jalisco and distilled in Stainless Steel.
Mezcal is rich and strong, always above 45 abv. It’s full-bodied, so you might want to mix it up for a more nuance taste.
The restaurant has plenty of offerings, such as “Peachy Inutil” made with mezcal joven, peach liqueur, lemon, agave, bitters and sparkling wine. For a more refreshing taste, try “Slush-Froze” with tequila reposado, Rosé wine, passionfruit, raspberry, grapefruit and lemon or “Dulce Adios” that combines lime zest infused mezcal joven, agave and mole bitters.
Whet Your Appetite
Now that we’ve whet your appetite, it’s time to satisfy it. By the way, food purchase is required with alcohol.
At Madre, satiating hunger starts with homemade tortillas that enrich any Mexican dish, whether you’re trying barbacoa de res, chivo and pollo or the different types of moles—six of them: rojo, negro, verde, yellow, and multi-colored coloradito and estofado—all served with chicken.
The menu is just as long as the mezcal offerings, from the traditional burritos and tacos for single servings to combination platters to share with loved ones, such as “Tour of Oaxaca” piled high with quesadillas, molotes, taquitos, memelas, chorizo, and different types of Oaxacan cheese. And there’s the tlayudas, a large tortilla topped with black beans, avocado, tomatoes, cabbage and your choice of meats.
Whatever you choose, and however you pair mezcal and traditional Oaxacan dishes, the combinations will transport you south of the border, to white, sandy beaches along the state’s coast, or to a clear-blue mountain town.
You can sample them at the restaurants’ patios or enjoy them from the comfort of your home.
You can order both drinks and food from Madre by simply heading to https://madrerestaurants.com/order-online/.
The restaurant also offers special DIY kits you can assemble in your own kitchen.
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