Not all thirsts are quenched by liquids

“Can I get something to drink?” he asked immediately after I had asked if I could help him. As innocuous a question if ever there was one. A drink? At a bar? What a novel idea. But it’s a question that gets asked all the time. Restaurants are there to provide food and drink. That is the very reason for their existence. So, it would stand to reason that the people going there would want that. And that the people there would provide it. Wouldn’t it?

But not everybody who goes to a bar or restaurant wants just that. Sometimes they go to see, and sometimes they go to be seen. Sometimes they eat. Sometimes they drink. Sometimes they do both and sometimes they do neither.

“I’m looking for mezcal,” he said, once the affirmative had been established.

“We only have three,” I said. “It’s not really our forte,” I added pointing around at the steakhouse ambiance and the martini glass logo.

“Do you have any that are smoky?”

I paused before answering, as I always do before answering a question that I am not sure I understand.

“You want a smoky mezcal?” I asked for clarification.

He nodded his head.

“Like more smoky than usual?” I added.

“No,” replied my questioner.

“Mezcal is smoky,” I said. “That’s pretty much it’s most defining characteristic.”

Boy was that the wrong answer.

The man then launched into a diatribe about all the possible incarnations of mezcal, including some that have very little to no smoky flavor. Most of which are so obscure that even a Google search and a private investigator cannot locate them.

Mezcal is often called the smoky cousin of tequila. Part of the difference is in the base material. Tequila must be made exclusively from the blue agave. No other agave can be used. Most tequilas are 100 percent blue agave. But there is another category. If it’s a “mixto,” it can be a mix of blue agave and sugar distillate. But it can never be another agave. Ever.

Mezcal is made from at least 30 different varieties of agave. Mezcals can be just one type, or they can be a mix of two or more. However, mezcal cannot be made from blue agave. Ever.

But the source material is not the major difference in the two products. The most major difference is in their production. Mezcal is typically made in such a way that the smoke of the fire that cooks the agave interacts with it, causing it to be smokier tasting. Much like how Scotch whisky is often smokier than its Celtic cousin Irish whiskey, also due to its production method.

However, much like Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey, generalizations always have exceptions and the same is true for mezcal. But as with most exceptions, they are incredibly limited and often incredibly hard to find.

Midway through his soliloquy, I stopped him – I do have a job to do – and pointed at the three, more or less, mainstream mezcals that we carried.

“Those are what we got,” I said, dumbing it down, not so much for him, but more for myself.

“Not all mezcal is smoky,” he said.

“OK,” I said.

“They aren’t.”

“Okay,” I replied elongating the pronunciation.

“They aren’t.”

He then ordered a tequila. And I moved on.

“I heard you talking to that guy about mezcal,” said the woman sitting three seats down making an uncomfortable amount of eye contact with me.

“Yeah,” I said.

“I like mezcal,” she said, her eyes boring right into me.

“Great,” I said, looking away.

“It makes me want to take off all of my clothes,” she added.

I looked up into her gaze at that.


“You know, take off all my clothes.”

“OK,” I said not sure where this was going.

“And have sex,” she added.

Now I knew where it was going.

“Do you have any?”

“What?” I asked, not knowing exactly which “any” she was asking about.

“Mezcal?” she clarified.

“I don’t,” I said. “But the restaurant does.”

The man three seats down then jumped back into the conversation.

“I’ll get her a mezcal,” he said.

“Which one?” I asked.

“It doesn’t really matter,” he said.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-We often muddy up our lives with trivialities, at least until something important comes along.

-The questions themselves are sometimes more important than the answers.

-A technicality will often stop the flow of what comes naturally.

-Turned out the mezcal loving woman was a psychologist. So, either she knew what she was doing, or she really knew what she was doing.

-“Not only the thirsty seek the water, the water as well seeks the thirsty,” once wrote the Persian mystic Rumi.

-Sometimes going into work is just going into work. And then again, sometimes it isn’t.