The problem with Mezcal - Bartenders VS Guests
Dear hipster bartenders, I understand your love for the smoky agave spirit & I understand the romance of it all as well as the unique flavour profile. I respect the traditions of production & the cultural significance of Mezcal & Tequila in Mexican culture. In fact I was enjoying some fantastic single-village mezcals this year in Mexico City...
We have admit there is a problem though: All over the world Mezcal has been championed the last 4 years as one of THE trends of the bartending world. What started out with the Del Maguey Mezcal series years ago has grown exponentially with new brands coming out every month promising unique new expressions, rare agaves & sticking all sorts of animals in the still for that 'unique' aroma. It has almost become a bucket-list for every bartender worth his salt to take a photo of himself harvesting his first agave(probably out of breath & sweating), taking a picture of the poor donkey going around in circles crushing the agave or the baking process. Don't get me wrong this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that should be cherished!
That being said how many bartenders do you know that can go a WHOLE night drinking Mezcal? Like, seriously...I probably know only 5...
The Mezcal story pattern closely resembles the development of Scotch Whisky, the original smoky flavour was not an intentional development but rather a product of circumstance with a lighter more pleasant style emerging with new technologies. The same can be said with the split of Tequila from the rest of the agave spirits. You have to ask yourself why are so many Mezcal brands produced for the export market & yet don't exist in Mexico itself? Why did the Mexican people choose to drink Tequila in much bigger quantities as opposed to the traditional & revered Mezcal? These are questions I might not have correct answers to but we should investigate!
The PEOPLE vs the BARTENDERS Look at it this way, bartenders who honour their craft are essentially alcohol fetishists, every time looking for the 'new' product to get their 'high'. Yet we're usually completely disconnected from the needs & wants of the general public, we're not aware of what they're drinking or at least we choose to turn a blind eye on it. Becoming for focussed on ourselves rather than the needs & wants of our guests.
Recently I did an interview with a Dutch newspaper that was asking me for the global trends that could be coming to the Netherlands in the foreseeable future. I responded to the journalist with a question of my own - Where are the Dutch people going on holiday? - most people can only afford to travel so much per year & most have 'normal' jobs 9-5 as opposed to bartenders.