The popularity of mezcal in the US has exploded in recent years. What was once something difficult to even find outside the regions where it’s produced, this Mexican spirit is today being enjoyed by people across the entire world.
Just like any other spirit, they are often enjoyed best when paired with the right food. No one likes to have a drink on an empty stomach, and the deep richness of it lends it to pairing very well with a wide variety of flavors and textures.
Cheese is, for a lot of people, something that goes good with anything and so it shouldn’t surprise you that certain cheeses pair excellently with mezcal as well. Most of them you’ll find have a varying degree of smokiness to their flavor profile and this pairs very well with hard cheeses like aged gruyere, pecorino, and manchego. Soft cheeses like brie and goat cheese don’t pair as well because they stick to the pallet and can be unpleasant with smoke flavors.
It can be paired with cheese served by itself but also goes great with appetizers that contain cheese. Caprese salads, greek salads, pickle mixes with feta cheese, and pimento cheese spreads are all great snacks to have on hand when you and your friends are sitting down to some mezcal
Smoked Meat and Mezcal
It shouldn’t be any surprise to you that they pair very well with smoked meats and other cured foods. The next time you’re enjoying your favorite mezcal, such as the delicious Rosaluna, try having it with pepperoni, salami, prosciutto, jamon, or any other cured, dried meat that you like. The salt content in cured food goes especially well with mezcal, and the spice content of the meat will help accentuate the depth of flavor.
If you’re looking for a meal to have with them, barbacoa tacos are a great place to start. Barbacoa is a type of smoked meat, usually cow or goat, that’s slow cooked either over an open fire or in a pit barbecue after being wrapped in agave leaves. The rich smoky flavors of the bbq, herbal notes from the coriander, and acidity from the lime juice all make barbacoa tacos a great meal to accompany your favorite mezcal drink.
Its magic is that it pairs very well with so many different kinds of food. Maybe you aren’t interested in bbq, and you don’t like cheese. Well, how does your favorite mezcal served alongside fresh ceviche sound? Or a strong mezcal cocktail alongside a piece of fire-grilled Mahi-Mahi?
When looking for seafood to pair with it, you want to lean into clean flavors and textures. Tuna, Snapper, shrimp, octopus, and squid are all good choices and can be served raw or as part of your favorite recipe. The seafood to avoid includes things with a very strong, fishy flavor like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring. Strong tasting fish will over power the mezcal and make it more difficult to taste.
Junk Food Too!
Just because Instagram is full of celebrity chefs and bartenders playing with it, you don’t need to be a world-class spirit expert to enjoy mezcal with good food. Having mezcal while you and your friends watch sports? Why not make a plate of nachos? Are you a big fan of pork rinds or chicharrónes? The crispy texture and high salt content make them a perfect match with mezcal.
Mezcal for any occasion
When you’re just looking for a good food to go with your mezcal, there are a few basic rules of thumb. Do look for food that’s:
And try to avoid foods that are:
Mezcal is an extremely versatile spirit and part of its charm is that each brand, and even each batch, tastes just a little different. It’s because of this that the possibilities for pairing food with mezcal are endless.