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Spanish in Cuernavaca - Mexico
Mezcal

Para todo mal, mezcal;     For all hardships, mezcal.
Para todo bien, también.   For all wellness, as well.

Mezcal is part of the Mexican culture. It may be a popular saying, a social icon, a toast, there's always mezcal, or tequila for that matter.

Just as Cognac is a special type of brandy produced from specific grapes grown in a select region of France not all brandy has the distinction of being Cognac. In like manner, all liquors distilled from any agave plant are "mezcal", but only those made from the blue agave are branded as Tequila, all the others are mezcal.

The most famous mezcal is distilled from a variety of agave grown in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, and the finest comes from the wild agave known as "papalomé" that it is so potent that two shots can really knock you down!

Maguey

In 1940 Jacobo Lozano Páez moved to Mexico City from Parras, Coahuila, Mexico to study painting in the National School of Arts of San Carlos. He got a job at the historic liquor store "La Minita" affiliated with "La Economica" in downtown Mexico City. This experience changed his artistic aspirations to those of a successful bottler and trader of mezcal, an activity initiated in the same liquor store. Jacobo met his future wife working there.

In 1942 he started a small bottling facility and entrusted into it his wife's hands. They collected used bottles and cleaned them for their operation. The couple bought mezcal from the Méndez family in Matatlan, Oaxaca.

In 1950 the then inexperienced entrepreneur, now owner of Atlántida, S.A., a small alcoholic beverage bottling company located downtown, AND a (self-proclaimed) connoisseur of the mezcal's production process, discovered in tasting, that the maguey (agave) worms gave the mezcal a different flavor, since when the plant was cut for cooking a lot of these creatures remained in the heart during production (a bad choice of plagued magueys).

This is how he got the idea to give his product a distinctive marketing touch; adding a worm to the beverage and including with the bottle a small sack with salt, seasoned with the same larva, dehydrated and ground. Ultimately these ingredients determined the identification of the mezcals "Gusano de Oro" and "Gusano Rojo."

Worms

It might be that the only use of the worm besides a marketing gimmick is to mask the chemical taste of poorly produced mezcal.

The worm story is found in: Carmen Valle Septien, Editor, "MEZCAL, elixir de larga vida" - CVS, Publicaciones, S.A. de C.V, 1997