In 2023, agave spirits are set to overtake vodka as America’s best-selling spirit, with mezcal consumption alone up nearly 33% in 2019, according to a research group.
One mezcal that you might be seeing more of across the country is El Silencio.
The company has a Santa Monica office, which is where KTLA caught up with CEO Fausto Zapata, a Mexico City native.
“The first thing is to make sure that you are respectful of where the agave, where the spirit itself can be made,” he said.
Zapata said the demand for agave spirits means some companies are cutting corners, such as cutting down the agave plant before it’s mature.
“If you’re pulling it out at five, then it’s not ethical and it’s not a pure spirit,” Zapata said.
He added that it’s important to protect the product and the people in Mexico who produce it.
In recent years, celebrities have been buying up booze and getting into agave spirits at a rapid pace.
Dan Dunn, a journalist, writer and host of the podcast “What We’re Drinking,” is at the intersection of both the spirit and the celebrity world.
“When you think of tequila, you think fun and excitement and parties, and that’s the image that celebrities want to put forth,” he says.
Dunn said he spent a lot of time, maybe too much time during the pandemic, at Nueva in Venice Beach learning about the evolving world of agave spirits.
His advice is to try the spirits without all the juices or sugars that come with mixers. That way, you’ll really taste the agave in the mezcals and tequilas and maybe you’ll enjoy the lesser-known Bancora, Sotol, Raicilla, Pulque or Chapulines.
Sometimes, more expensive does mean better — better tasting and better environmentally because it means the company has the research and finances to keep the tradition of the spirit alive.
“Everybody wants to find those hidden gems, and in that case, I would probably go more expensive because if you’re going to find a tequila that you’ve never heard of that’s $14, good luck,” Dunn said.