TRAVELOG BAJA: MEZCAL HUNTING IN SJD
San Jose del Cabo is increasing its cool factor with investment money from Mexico City. We found a street close to the town center that boasts some of the hippest restaurants and bars in Baja.
La Lupita was where we started our Mezcal crawl. As soon the sun sets, the band starts playing at this rustic-chic restaurant in the center of San José del Cabo. It felt like a backyard bbq where a taco truck pulled up. As we walked in, we were impressed to see a surfer guitar band playing a Weezer song. The simple taco-focused menu—stuffed with fish, al pastor, carnitas and more—our fave was hands down, the cheese crust pastor. All of this was deliciously washed down with a local craft beer and a flight of Mezcal. We opted for the Flight Artesanal including Mezcal de Leyanda Durango, El Tinieblo Reposado and Cuish Coyote. The El Tinieblo got our vote.
We found La Revolución Comedor, next to the Drift Hotel when we were looking for a last drink and taxi in SJD. We felt at home in this bar where beards and mixology dominate. We drank their signature cocktail, La Revolución , which has mezcal chile poblano liquor, sesame oil, and green seed powder. We did not try, but loved the name, The Street Dog, which includes Geneva, Campari, coconut water, honey, lemon juice and tonic water comes in Campbell's soup cans.
We were drawn to the large jar on the bar with a diamondback rattlesnake inside. It was Venom Sotol and the Manager Carlos offered us a taste. We agreed to a shot only if Fernando behind the bar joined us, as Sotol used to have the reputation for being Mexican moonshine that could make you go blind. Sotol has a long history dating back hundreds of years. When the Spanish introduced liquor stills to Mexico, ranchers started making booze. With over 200 species of agave in Mexico, tequila and mezcal production grew. Around the same time, in the North (Baja), the sotol plant, a.k.a the desert spoon, was harvested to create a unique spirit popularized during U.S. Prohibition. Post-prohibition, however, Sotol disappeared. Today it is having a resurgence in Mexican hipster mixology communities. Just like tequila it comes in styles of blanco, anejo and reposado. It can be infused with snake venom or other natural ingredients like fruits and nuts. Because it takes 15 years for a Sotol plant to mature, it picks up a lot of flavors from the terroir. It was delicious-- earthy with an infusion of herbs like Fernet, but smooth like an aged tequila.
We will investigate further…