“Tequila and Mezcal. The Complete Guide” is a new work published just last year. It’s a book which follows the current trend with the world of agave spirits. – And we can see that even in the books title “Tequila and Mezcal…”. This is a book about tequila AND mezcal and with equal focus on both spirits.
Facts and history
The book begins with a short but very effectively written historical and fact oriented chapter. The author explains the how tequila and mezcal is categorized and aged. The explanation of norma for tequila and mezcal is really excellent. For newcomers in the world of agave, the somewhat technical sounding abbreviations of NOM, DOT etc are confusing. DOT (Denomination of Origin of Tequila) works in principle as a trade hindrance or copyright. It is a geographic definition as to where can be produced. If the tequila/mezcal is not produced in one of the disctricts encompassed by the standard – it is not tequila/mezcal. It may certainly be agave spirits produced in exactly the same way and even on the same ingredients but it can’t be tequila/mezcal. The geographic origin is what counts. The Norma is what defines tequila in terms of chemical composition, agave variety, production processes, regulations et cetera. The Norma is actually updated sometimes.
Getting to know agave
A welcome addition to the agave literature is the section on the different agave species. One will often encounter mentionings of Blue Agave, Tobala, Espadin et cetera, but how do they look and taste. The agave plant is the very source material of Tequila and Mezcal, and because the regulations stipulate certain species, the upholding of these species are very important. The agave plant is a plant with a strong sense of survival, which means that it will easyli mix with other species in order to survive. That makes keeping the genetic pool of Blue Agave pure a difficult task. It also point to the very weakness of the Norma which stipulates that only Blue Agave can be use for tequila, creating a monoculture which may collapse.
The books authors, Kobe Desmet and Isabel Boons also finds place for a chapter on a number of carefully chosen tequla and mezcal brands. Here one will find relatively unknown brands like Tequila 30-30 and some rather more well known brands like Siete Leguas, Casa Noble and Don Julio. On the mezcal side we find Del Maguey, Ilegal, Marca Negra and several others. The mezcals are all very described with great knowledge of the different agave varieties, production technique and others. The book has a beautiful layout and the choice of Emma Thyssen as a graphic artist is good. Her fragile but very readable drawings are really excellent and suits the layout very well.
The book has an entire chapter dedicated to cocktails with tequila and mezcal. They are good and wellwritten recipes with very beautiful pictures. And the recipes are new and surprising. No old and wellknown recipes on sunrises and margaritas fortunately.
The cocktail chapter has an introdoctory section with an explanation on how tequila and mezcal is consumed in Mexico. Here we discover the truth to the usage of lime juice, salt, sangrita et cetera. Really good. There are also a bunch of recipes on tequila and mezcal as an ingredient in cooking. That recipe on chili chocholate with tequila made me want to start cooking immediately.
Glossary and index
The book ends with a nice if somewhat over layouted glossary and index. There are lots of terms within the industry which needs an explanation, so that is a good thing.
Isabel Boons is a Belgian freelance journalist and autor specialized in food and drinks. She wrote a series of complete guides about gin-tonic, tequila & mezcal, vermouth and rhum. She is bitten by the cocktailvirus and takes often place behind her own homebar.
Kobe Desmet is a Belgian Agave-enthusiast and official Tequila Maestro that has been able to make his passion his job. He is now working for AliasSmith AB, the biggest importer of Mexican Spirits in Europe, and is able to do so from the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, where he plans to live indefinitely.
“Tequila and Mezcal. The Complete Guide” 2016. Published by Lannoo.
Buy it at: BookDepository.