Did you know Susan Sarandon’s favorite drink was tequila?
I’ve always had a mix of apprehension and attraction to tequila. It’s like that fox that I know is bad for me and that I’ll hate the next morning, but at the moment he’s oh so much fun and so handsome. There are few things I like more than catching up with my girls over spicy margaritas (SohoHouse makes my favorite in NYC). If it’s tequila’s smokier cousin mezcal? Even better! So imagine my joy a few years ago when I met another member of the fam, raicilla. Now, for me, raicilla was the elusive cousin that might show up to the party once a year. I’ve only had it while in Sayulita; I’d hear my friend Isis say, Richard’s in town and knew: when Richard came down “from the mountains” it was time to party!
Also a product of the agave plant, raicilla predates the Spanish arrival in Mexico and originates from the Jalisco state. Once thought of as Mexico’s version of moonshine and banned and considered illegal in this form since the Spanish, there was little government sanction to it’s distribution, however that has changed in the last few years and there are great raicilla distilleries gaining attention.
The process: I love the flavour of raicilla, it’s definitely sweeter than it’s cousins with the distillation process similar to mezcal: wild agave plants are grown for about 8 years, they’re fire roasted, the cooked agave mash is fermented, distilled once or twice and then watered down with fresh spring water.
The flavour: As I said, it’s sweeter, but still has the smokiness that you associate with mezcal. Though my favorite so far, from Estancia Raicilla, is much more citrusy and less smoky. Raicilla has a more subtle less aggressive flavor than tequila, making it ideal for cocktails I’d imagine. It’s also so wonderfully warming.
Why I love it: Yes, the flavour is awesome, the exclusivity of it makes me want it more, but I didn’t realize why I really loved raicilla until my recent trip to Sayulita and being gifted a bottle of Estancia Raicilla. The buzz and the hangover.
They say that homemade moonshine batches of raicilla can contain mescaline, the hallucinogenic found in peyote. While I’m pretty sure we avoided that with Estancia Raicilla’s bottle, the buzz was delightful. My friend Taylor best described it as a “really jovial, everything’s alright” buzz, without the sloppiness or wildness that comes with tequila. Maybe that’s just us, but I’ve seen my friends of all personality types and drinking tendencies dabble in raicilla and everyone was alrightttt.
And the hangover. There isn’t any! You’re just a little tired. Again, I thought, “Weird, I finished a bottle with a friend last night. Why am I up and ready to go at 9am.” But Isis, my Mexican sage, informed me that that’s just the magic of raicilla. Seek it out! Trust me, you will not regret it and if you have tried it, let me know your experience!
There are some other wonderful heritage spirits of Mexico that I learned about that may warrant a spirit tour of Mexico. What do you guys think? Would you be interested in something like that? Comment below!