If you know me, then you know I love Espita Mezcaleria. That’s why I Can’t. Stop. Talking. About. Them. So I’m back at it with a close-up on all of their latest and best boozy offerings, all of which celebrate what GM and master mezcalier Josh Phillips calls, “a sense of moment,” with ingredients and drinks which embody time, place, and seasonality.
3 Stars Chamomile Saison
The first way this is seen is with their new exclusive collaboration with 3 Stars Brewing: 3 Stars Chamomile Saison. Both Phillips and beverage director Megan Barnes have made clear they’ve been big supporters of 3 Stars, with Phillips calling them the “most consistently great” D.C. brewery.
The idea for the collaboration came from Barnes, with the ultimate goal being, “a Mexican beer that’s not a Mexican beer,” explains Phillips. That’s where the chamomile comes into play. “It’s one of the ingredients you see everywhere in Oaxaca.”
The first iteration of the collaboration starts with a base of 3 Stars Citra Lemon Saison, and after that 10-keg supply is kicked, the next batch will showcase a riff based on 3 Stars Peppercorn Saison.
The current Citra-based beer is crisp and refreshing, with zesty, citrus and herbaceous influences. It’s meant as a session beer perfect for the warming weather, and Phillips is quick to add that “session beer” doesn’t have to be synonymous with basic or flavorless. “I think a lot of session beers get pigeonholed into being ‘simple’ but they’re not—they’re easy,” he says.
House Mezcal from the Jimenez Family
Another new offering is the new Espita house mezcal. It’s distilled by the Jimenez family, producers of El Buho mezcal. This collaboration was inspired by a recent Espita team trek to Oaxaca. “This is the coolest project we’ve done in a while,” says Phillips.
While visiting bar after bar with Pepe Jimenez, Phillips quickly noticed how frequently local watering holes were showcasing a house mezcal distilled by his host and guide. “It was apparent he wasn’t just distilling Buho,” Phillips says with a laugh.
They quickly put the wheels in motion to get their hands on a Jimenez-distilled house mezcal of their own.
Once again, it’s about time and place. Most mezcal isn’t produced on a large enough scale to be distributed. Instead, authentic, tiny mezcal producers offer their wares to local communities, producing not only some of the rarest mezcals you can find, but also some of the highest quality. “House mezcal tends to be some of the best on the menu in Oaxaca,” says Phillips.
Espita’s new house mezcal follows those protocols and is made from the Cuixe agave. “The quality of the distillation is just off the charts,” says Phillips. The spirit itself is zesty, bright and floral on the nose, with black pepper surfacing on the palate, along with citrus and vegetal notes.
New Cocktails & Mezcal Flights
The latest cocktails at Espita continue the sense of time and place, with new menus planned to celebrate the seasons of Mexican flavors. Current inclusions focus on the ingredients and flavors of pre-Colombian Mexico, showcasing flavors such as jiacama, toasted corn, and chamomile, as seen in:
- The Chamomile Spritz, an on tap, citrus-free drink, with chamomile-infused mezcal and Verdejo delivering a patio-worthy spritz good at any time of the day.
- The Flower Wars, a Manhattan riff made with mezcal, Carpano, and toasted heirloom corn flavored Cardamaro. For the latter, they pan toast the same heirloom corn they use for their chips and tortillas, deglazing with the Cardamaro to pick up its flavors.
- The People of the Clouds, a sweet, refreshing drink made cloudy with jicama, incorporating espadin mezcal, jicama lemon, and lavender jicama sticks
- The Five Sons, what Phillips describes as “a bad ass Mexican pina colada.” It’s a riff on a Royal Flip cocktail, made with espadin mezcal, mango, coconut, elote, egg, and lemon… topped with ground chapulines (read: grasshoppers).
And if you’re still thirsty, you can try the new Gins of Mezcal flight. “We like flights that tell stories,” says Phillips. The three mezcals each highlight a different gin quality, from floral to grassy to spicy, and while none of them would individually taste like gin, the flight was designed so that they collectively call to mind that flavor profile.
Last but certainly not least…
…One more splurge-worthy inclusion: the exceedingly rare Michoacán Cupreata agave Mezcal Almamezcalera. Priced at $30, it’s above the typical price range at Espita, and Phillips jokes that it’s partially so he, Megan and the rest of the crew don’t simply drink it all themselves. But the highly sought after and minuscule release moves beyond the hype. It’s amazingly rich and complex and smooth, and its luscious, savory-sweet flavors stay with you on a finish that lasts for ages.
There’s much mezcal for you to drink, and little time to waste. So go ahead and raise your copita, and toast as they say at Espita and in Oaxaca, “dixeebe!“