The 5 Best Mezcal Books You Need to Read Now
by Greg Rutkowski
The rise of mezcal hasn’t just given way to increased mezcal consumption. It’s also triggered a general interest in mezcal among both casual fans and dedicated connoisseurs alike.
People want to learn about the history of mezcal. They want to know how it’s made. They want to find out about the best mezcal bars. Fans constantly seek out new mezcal cocktail recipes. They strive to understand what makes it different from other spirits.
Fortunately, many of those interested in mezcal also have the expertise and skills to write some pretty thorough and entertaining books on the subject. They can help you learn everything you want to know about mezcal.
Currently, the following are the best mezcal books worth checking out. They cover a range of topics, from stories about mezcal production to mezcal recipes, ensuring you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in at least one of them.
1) Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico with 40 Cocktails
Author: Ron Cooper
This book is our favorite book written by the owner of Del Maguey, the man who popularized mezcal in the United States. He talks about his experiences in Mexico, the mezcal industry, and weaves the creation of his product line into a very romantic story.
Making a standout mezcal is very labor-intensive. Many fans of this spirit don’t realize just how much work goes into creating it. However, many would like to learn.
Give Finding Mezcal a try if you’re that kind of mezcal enthusiast. It’s among the best books on mezcal production, giving readers extensive behind-the-scenes insights into the ways various mezcal producers make their products. As the book’s full title implies, it also offers 40 cocktail recipes featuring mezcal, potentially giving you some new ideas about ways to enjoy your favorite liquor.
2) Mezcal: The History, Craft, & Cocktails of the World's Ultimate Artisanal Spirit
Author: Emma Janzen
If you’re looking for the most authoritative books on mezcal, this title is perhaps the best place to start. It even earned a 2018 nomination for the James Beard Foundation Book Award in the beverage category.
Author Emma Franzen served as Imbibe magazine’s digital content editor before writing Mezcal. She got the idea for the book when she realized that there’s quite a bit of misinformation out there about this particular spirit. Franzen decided she’d address some of this misinformation in a book on the subject.
This book might also appeal to you if you want the chance to learn a lot about mezcal, but don’t necessarily feel like reading an entire book all the way through right now. That’s because Franzen approached the book as if each chapter was a separate magazine article.
Thus, if you wanted to learn more about the history of mezcal, you could focus on those chapters without needing to read the others. If you preferred to read up on mezcal cocktails, you could read those chapters instead.
That said, as one of the best mezcal books, this one does deserve a full read when you have the time. Franzen explains how mezcal is more than just an impressive liquor — it’s also a “cultural treasure.” Reading her book in full will help you better appreciate how quality mezcal is the result of knowledge passed down through generations. This will in turn give you a deeper appreciation for the experience of drinking mezcal.
3) Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal!
Author: John McEvoy
Emma Franzen’s Mezcal may be one of the best mezcal books you’ll ever read, but her style is very journalistic. You may be interested in something a little more informal and fun.
If that’s the case, consider checking out Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! instead. It’s author doesn’t have the journalistic background that Franzen had. John McEvoy actually started writing about this topic while holding down a Wall Street job. He simply felt so enthusiastic about mezcal that he started his now-popular blog Mezcal PhD on the side.
That doesn’t mean he’s not a strong writer, but it does mean his tone is fairly light-hearted, matching his enthusiasm for mezcal. This conversational style makes Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! a very easy (but still very informative) read that covers all the essential information a new mezcal fan should learn.
4) The Mezcal Rush
Author: Granville Greene
The Mezcal Rush is an ideal book on this subject for anyone who’s also interested in travel writing. Author Granville Greene, who has written travel and adventure articles for such publications as Outside, wrote the book while living in Oaxaca, Mexico for about a year. He’d also traveled in the region before.
This book describes his travels. More importantly, it focuses extensively on his relationships with mezcaleros and their families. While Finding Mezcal offers readers an introduction to the technical aspects of mezcal production, The Mezcal Rush is arguably more personal, with Greene encouraging readers to appreciate the hard work and dedication of the mezcaleros who help create this spirit.
5) Understanding Mezcal
Author: Jay Schroeder
Author Jay Schroeder is uniquely qualified to write one of the best books on mezcal released in recent years. That’s because he used to serve as the beverage manager of Todos Santos, which was one of Chicago’s most popular mezcal bars.
He also knows that many readers may be somewhat unfamiliar with just how much there is to learn about mezcal. Thus, he made a point of writing a book that could serve as an introduction to the subject for someone with very little background knowledge.
Additionally, Schroeder explains to readers why mezcal deserves to be spoken and written about in the same way that beverage experts discuss wine. A quality mezcal is just as nuanced and requires just as much attention to detail as a fine wine from France. Understanding Mezcal will help you, well, understand why this is to a greater degree than you currently might.
The Best Mezcal Books: A Growing List
Remember, these titles are simply the best mezcal books currently in stores. Mezcal’s popularity continues to grow. That means it’s highly likely even more authors will release their own impressive books on this subject in the coming years. It’s certainly a great time to be a mezcal fan.