Mezcal Tasting Set
Mexico in a Box
Some say mezcal is "Mexico in a bottle." With this super-limited* tasting kit, I've done my very best to put Mexico in a Bottle ... in a Box. If you can't get there in person, I dare say this is the next best thing.
Here's what's inside ...
Traditionally, mezcal is consumed from what's at hand. Most commonly, you'll find one of two vessels used at palenques (distilleries) or mezcalerías (bars specializing in mezcal):
- A Jícara, or dried gourd. They're cheap and plentiful, if slightly on the unstable side with a rounded, gourd-shaped base.** Extremely rustic but romantic, and imported from Mexico by yours truly.
- A Vaso Veladora, or candle glass. This is utilitarian in several senses: the vases which are first used to hold candles in Catholic rituals are reincarnated intopretty great mezcal glasses when empty. Their wide mouth amplifies mezcal's aromas and the thick glass is very difficult to break if dropped. Imported from Mexico by yours truly.
Sal de Gusano
Contrary to your collegiate experience, good mezcal – or gusano – rarely has a worm in the bottom of the bottle. But agaves - the plant from which mezcal is made - do often harbor worms, which are dried, ground and mixed with salt and chile peppers to make an excellent palate cleanser between sips. I like my sal sprinkled on thin orange slices. This example is imported and marketed by Portland's own Bitterman Salt Co., but made in Oaxaca from local salt, chiles and gusanos. A little from this 1 oz. bottle goes a long way.
Seis Galones Tasting Board
You'll need something on which to place your citrusy, wormy snacks, and for that I designed and produced a unique mezcal-tasting board, made in Oregon from orchard-salvaged, hand-oiled Black Walnut. This species is known for its incredible, variegated grain, to which I've added six carved chevrons.
Three Mezcal-Tasting Notebooks & Matching Pen
DIY Papel Picado Décor
Go to any Mexican restaurant worth its sal, and you'll see colorful paper or plastic flags hanging everywhere, pierced with unique designs. This is papel picado, or pierced paper.
My goal with packaging is always to provide as little waste as possible, but in reuse is even better. The entire packaging, from the box to the protective insert - can be punched out to make three agave-inspired papel picado flags, plus one "wicker" ring to stabilize your jícara. I'll drink to that!
* My suitcase could only carry so many things - it was already stuffed with mezcal!
** For that, it's often placed inside a wicker ring which keeps it from spilling. I was able to bring back some jícara, but the wicker eluded me. You can punch out a facsimile from the package insert.