Also spelled Mescal, Mezcal is a distilled drink made from the maguey plant, which is a type of Agave. This Mexican libation is mostly made in the region of Oaxaca, where there is a saying, "for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, too." It's an amusing saying, but perhaps symptomatic of a deeper-rooted problem. Mezcal is usually consumed neat, and it has a smoky flavor. It is quite similar to Tequila in many respects, though they are both made from different varieties of Agave. Mezcal is also produced to a much smaller scale. First the Maguey plants are harvested, and the hearts (or "piñas") are extracted. These are then cooked for three days near open fires, which gives the drink the smoky flavour. They are then crushed, mashed and fermented prior to a single distillation. Mezcal often features a small larva/worm in the bottle (the bottles will be labelled "con gusano" - "with worm"), which is most likely a marketing ploy invented in the mid 20th Century. Typically the bottle will be drunk, and the left over worm will be eaten. In Mexico the drink is enjoyed neat, though there are many cocktails to which it is suited.
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