Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Drink your plants


I know, usually the saying is “eat your plants,” but why not drink them too? We recently enjoyed dinner at Mextiza and were about to order a nice smooth sipping tequila…

When down at the bottom of the menu I saw the word sotol, I had no idea! Everyone knows tequila (and mezcal) comes from the agave, but did you know there is also a liquor made from the dasylirion (sotol)?

A little info: “…unlike tequila, which is made in the state of Jalisco, and mezcal, whose denominación de orígen (D.O.) includes six states in central and southern Mexico, sotol's D.O. includes the northern states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Durango. Despite its long history, the millennium-old spirit remains relatively obscure in the United States and that's not likely to change significantly anytime soon. Even if sotol gained the visibility and popularity of tequila and mezcal, the supply wouldn't be able to keep up with demand. In fact, supply is already an issue-- sotol makers can barely keep up with the limited demand that exists right now in the market outside Mexico.” (source)

That supply issue is due mostly to the fact it can take a dasylirion 15 years to mature to the point it can be harvested to make the drink. Plus the “alcohol per volume” varies from batch to batch making labeling for sale a huge issue. So what did it taste like? Well I am not a hard alcohol lover, although I've had a few very smooth and tasty tequilas in the day, this was powerful. Smooth in the beginning, a flavorful middle with a burn going down. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I'll seek it out in the future, nor will I be harvesting my dasylirion to make alcohol.

Coincidentally David (formerly the Desert Dweller who now blogs at It's a Dry Heat) posted about enjoying a glass of sotol just last week. He was drinking Don Cuco (it was recommended), mine was Hacienda-de-Chihuahua (photo source)...

Sadly the restaurant Mextiza closed at the end of July, but if your a Portlander you still can visit their "other" restaurants, Autentica and Uno Mas. No word on whether or not they sell sotol...

28 comments:

  1. I love the fact that you can "drink" your favorite spiky plants :-).

    Next you should try pulque, which is made from the sap of the agave that collects in the center after the emerging flower stalk is cut off. I've never had it myself.

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    1. Yes I suppose I really do need to try pulque, and you know I don't believe I've actually had mescal either. One must space these things out.

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  2. It's fun to see you love of the plants extend into a relaxing drink. Combine those with colonche from opuntias and you are getting quite a nice little drinks cabinet.

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    1. Ah see, another new one! Have you had colonche?

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  3. I could never harvest such a beautiful plant though. :-)

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  4. Fascinating stuff, and makes you wonder how people before figured out which plants to make alcoholic drinks from. Palm heart, rice wine, etc.

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    1. Good question. I suppose I should finally pick up (and read) The Drunken Botanist, it's only been in the "to read" pile for about 3 years now.

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  5. Thanks for the cool facts! I am not a hard alcohol fan either but I love knowing plant info! Going to share this one : )

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  6. Where will your love of the rare and unusual take you next? You know how to keep your audience on the edge of our seats.

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    1. I'm still waiting for that invitation to tour an agave farm/tequila making facility in Mexico...

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  7. Who would have thunk it? Too pretty to cut down after 15 years!

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  8. Like others have said, how could you destroy such a pretty plant after so long? Glad to hear you won't be harvesting yours!

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  9. I learned quite a bit from this post. Thanks! I had no idea, but I'm not very familiar with the plant. I agree with the others, though--it would be a shame to cut it back after all those years.

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  10. Now that is a real Danger Garden.

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    1. My head hurts just thinking about it.

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  11. I know that plant...and drink! The first sotol I drank was in Juarez, Chihuahua, about 2001...it lived up to one description...essence of gasoline. Glad I found better. There is interest in growing it commercially in my area, but I wonder if the flavor will vary if grown on different soils than the rocky uplands (or lave rock) it seems to be found in NW Chihuahua.

    Enjoyed your take on this favorite landscape plant of mine. Because they are so common, I could be fine with doing some in for some cold drinks... Your's looks fine, and it's safe for a long time.

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    1. "Essence of gasoline" - not a very good recommendation. Interesting that there is talk of commercial growing in your neck of the woods. Certainly have the sun and the land for such an operation.

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  12. That's so interesting! I have a sotol nearing the 15 year mark, but I'm with you, I don't think I'll be squishing up into alcohol anytime soon.

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    1. But would you try it (sotol) at a restaurant?

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  13. You sould try bacanora.
    http://www.tequila.net/faqs/tequila/what-is-bacanora.html

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    1. Ah thank you! I will keep an eye out for it.

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