Why is there a worm in mezcal?
In short, the worm that you see in a bottle of mezcal was a marketing gimmick.
Jacobo Lozano Paez of Gusano Rojo was the brains behind the mezcal worm marketing ploy.
It began in 1950, the art school student who became a mezcal maker included moth larvae in bottles to distinguish his mezcal brand from others.
Monte Alban Mezcal Advertisement
After, other producers started to us the tactic as a way to differentiate themselves from tequila back when mezcal started to gain popularity from Oaxacan tourism.
Today, it widely regarded that the producers who use the worm in their mezcal is of lower quality.
However there are certain examples of high quality brands using the mezcal worm as a way to pay homage to the tradition.
How can read about examples of modern day brands using the mezcal worm here.
Does the mezcal worm have hallucinogenic effects?
What happens when you eat the worm in mezcal?
There are plenty of myths and local legends about the effects that the mezcal worm may have, but they are simply not true.
If you do feel something after eating a mezcal worm it is a placebo effect.
At best, you may get a little more of a buzz because the mezcal has been absorbed into the worm.
Why is the mezcal worm still used today?
Older commercialized mezcal brands have not deviated from the pack of new generation mezcal producers.
Even today, the marketing gimmick still helps separate themselves from the other producers.
The mezcal worm is also used as a rite of passage when drinking mezcal with friends.
If you are the new mezcal drinker among the group person who finishes the bottle of mezcal has to eat the worm.
How to eat the mezcal worm?
Eating the mezcal worm is easy.
The best way to enjoy it is to eat is separately or even cut it into halves and share it with your friends.
If you don't want to taste it and are the unlucky chose one to eat it, pour the mezcal worm into a shot glasses with the mezcal and shoot it.
Does all mezcal have a worm in the bottle?
Before the mezcal boom of the 1990's most bottles of commercially produced mezcal that was available in the United States had a worm in the bottle.
Today, to find a worm in a bottle of mezcal is more rare as hundred of new mezcal producers has came into existence in the last 20 years.
Does tequila ever have the worm?
You will never find a worm in a bottle of imported tequila.
Tequila has strict guidelines of bottling and production. The bottle would no longer be considered "tequila" under the denomination of origin.
What is worm salt for mezcal?
Sal de Gusano or worm salt, is an accompaniment used as a way to spice up vegetables and fruits while you drink mezcal.
Worm salt is most commonly used during mezcal tastings but it can also be used for rimming mezcal cocktails and Mexican cooking as well.
Worm salt is a mix of sea salt, ground agave larvae, and chile spices.
The best place to find and buy worm salt online is here.
Are you still interested in learning more?
Checkout the mezcal worm's second cousin, the chapulin and see how this tasty toasted grasshopper has its place in the mezcal world.
Last Updated: 04/09/22
Greg Rutkowski, President
Greg is a lover of agave spirits, handicrafts, and barware. In 2020 he married all of his loves and created a business bringing amazing pieces from all over Mexico to the United States. Learn more here.