Mezcal Is on the Rise - So Are Great Mezcal Bars

Mezcal Is on the Rise - So Are Great Mezcal Bars

Once upon a time - just a few years ago - Mezcal was so hard to find that we at Mezcalistas created a map for the great Mezcal bars in the US. Now there are so many great places to drink Mezcal that in most towns, you can find great selections and tuned in bar tenders to help guide you through their menus.

Our original list has grown by leaps and bounds embracing bars across the planet. Here are some of the great bars and programs to check out across the country. Yes, I’m definitely aware that many worthwhile places don’t appear in this article.

My goal here is to provide some highlights so that you can dive in and check the full map. It contains a dizzying number and variety of locations in the US and, increasingly, international locations as well. We update it weekly and foster a conversation on Mezcalista's Facebook page about new places so jump in to find a place near you and join the conversation with your favorites and suggestions about places we’ve missed.

The Variety of Mezcal Bars

The best part about Mezcal is that so many great bars have opened up featuring an amazing variety. The strength of this category has grown in number and depth of offerings in a way that I could never have dreamed just six years ago when we started Mezcalistas.

I could go on for pages but I’ll limit myself to three here. Like I keep saying, go look at our map for many, many more!

#1 Pastry War, Houston

Founded by Bobby Huegel the Pastry War (named after a short lived war between France and Mexico was one of the first bars in the US to devote itself to Mezcal. Since then their focus on distilleries that they’ve visited has kept the focus on traditionally produced Mezcals which come with a pedigree and explanation from the well trained staff.

#2 Atla, New York

When Enrique Olvera came to New York with Cosme in the local food culture went justifiably gaga. His Mexico City flagship Pujol had long been on local lists before it made the World’s Best because of its focus on the deep well of Mexican cuisine including a bar menu which delved into Mezcal and Mexican Wines.

Cosme brought that spirit to New York but ATLA made it a full on lifestyle option with a creative all day Mexican menu balanced with incredible Mezcal cocktails and a well curated selection of neat pours.

Escape the rain with a glass of mezcal. Late night at ATLA until 2am.

A post shared by ATLA (@atlanyc) on

#3 Quiote /Todos Santos, Chicago

When it opened Chicago’s Quiote was riding the crest of a local fixation on Mexican cuisine (see local culinary celebrity Rick Bayless who paved the road and continues to ride it to this day) and burgeoning Mezcal culture. I remember doing a walk through of the ripped up restaurant and bar space before the build out wondering whether they’d bit off more than they could chew because they were just so ambitious. I should have never worried, the food was instantly popular making reservations mandatory.

patio life. see you at 5!

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But that idea of a Mezcal bar took it one step further because they really do have an entirely separate bar area underneath the restaurant which quickly became a center of agave Spirits with knowledgeable bartenders and a huge list. Then late last year Jay Schroeder joined as bar manager and took things into the stratosphere. Jay previously founded Mezcaleria Las Flores and is steeped in the Mezcal culture so he brought that and a keen sense of how to run a bar to the party. They renamed the bar Todos Santos and haven’t stopped an amazing run since.

Mezcal Programs

This is the all around portion of the article where we get to mention places that are more than "just" Mezcal bars. No, they’re not honorable mentions, they really have the whole package.

#1 Las Perlas, Los Angeles and Austin

Las Perlas is another one of the original Mezcal bars. Their downtown Los Angeles location has been a key location on the Mezcal tour for quite some time and continues to do great work. They opened an Austin location recently which is just as robust and both have a tasting series which allow you to meet makers and brands so that you can build your education through experience.

#2 Prizefighter, Emeryville

Emeryville is probably on nobody’s list as a Mezcal center of the universe but Prizefighter has been highlighting the finer points of Mezcal for quite some time in an understated approach in an equally understated strip of light industrial America. Their secret is one that many other bars would be good to emulate.

Just like most Mezcal bars they have a wide selection of Mezcals which are served by knowledgeable bartenders. Unlike most they sell it in half ounce pours which means that you can sample a wide variety at very reasonable prices and still walk out of the bar at the end of the night.

#3 Bar Clavel, Baltimore

From the outside it may be hard to find because Bar Clavel is also situated in the heart of yet another of America’s lost industrial heartlands. But don’t let the location deter you. Inside it’s bright and airy, decked out with hanging lights and offers a full drinking and dining experience.

Una celebración de la vida

A post shared by CLAVEL (@bar_clavel) on

The house Beer is from a tiny local brewery, the menu is an array of classic Mexican tacos and sundry other dishes all perfectly on point at a price point to match, the cocktail program will blow your mind, oh and they serve plenty of Mezcals neat at the bar or at their reservation only tasting room.

What is your favorite Mezcal bar? Have you found an interesting bar on the Mezcalista's map? Do share with us!

Cover image: Prizefighter
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