Found: 1900 Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar (1523 Elizabeth Ave.)
Ingredients: Prickly pear purée, lime juice, agave nectar, Mezcal, chili rim
Mezcal is a spirit with some seriously colorful origins. Cultivated in Oaxaca, Mexico, and long considered tequila's coarser sibling, it's a liquor that's deeply rooted in the area's cultural traditions. Maguey, the agave plant from which mezcal is made, grows predominantly in Oaxaca; thus, there's a good amount of regional pride for the smoky spirit. People from Oaxaca drink mezcal for every imaginable occasion, from weddings and baptisms to birthdays and funerals; hell, some even enjoy it in the morning in a terra cotta bowl of coffee. The popular saying, "Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien tambien" (for everything bad, mezcal, and also for everything good) gives you an idea of just how significant the spirit is in Oaxacan households.
But not all are drawn to its unique, oven-cooked taste. Since mezcal is crafted by roasting plants in pit ovens over hot rocks, it boasts an unusual, smoky flair. "It's different. I can tell you straight: It's not for everybody. It's for those who maybe have more of an obscure palate," says 1900 Mexican Grill manager Oscar San German, whose hometown is Oaxaca. "When you want to make a cocktail with mezcal, you have to make something really complex. You have to find the right ingredients to balance it with the mezcal." You can almost taste the history and tradition seeping from the smoky and sweet layers of 1900 Mexican Grill's concoction.
1900 Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar hosts spirit classes dedicated to tequila on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 704-334-4677.