The Daily Meal, March, 2014
The 60 Coolest People in Food & Drink 2014
New York’s Guggenheim Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are but two of the institutions in which Cooper’s light sculptures and other environmental installations can be found — but after he discovered true artisanal mezcals in the Oaxaca countryside in 1990, he saw a different kind of light and made it his mission to bring these unique and powerful spirits to an American audience. The label he founded, Del Maguey, doesn’t traffic in those mild, anonymous mezcals that are trying to be tequila; these bottlings are produced absolutely by hand, from agave hearts roasted in stone pits and ground in horse-powered mills, and they’re full-bodied, often smoky, and flavorful as hell. Cooper imports seven kinds of mezcal, some of which are fermented for up to a month.
“It takes time, but we’re extracting flavor,” he told Food and Wine. To help ensure that this traditional treasure won’t be lost, the affable Cooper has even founded a nonprofit organization with a name almost as mouth-filling as Del Maguey’s products: the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the Producing Communities of Maguey and Cultural Rescue of Mezcal.
Los Angeles Times, March 27th, 2014
Mezcal, the “moonshine of Mexico,
grows in appreciation, availability
By S. Irene Virbila
Terroir. Wild yeasts. Elevation. Who knew these terms could apply to mezcal as easily as to wine. In fact, “the vocabulary of mezcal is more like the vocabulary of wine than spirits,” explains Ron Cooper, the California artist who founded Del Maguey single-village mezcals 20 years ago when the beverage wasn’t on anybody’s radar.
“We’re talking about terroir, about mouth feel,” he says. “We’re talking about aroma, nose.”
Unlike tequila, which is always made from blue agave, mezcal can be made from 28 varieties of the plant, only four of which can be domesticated, though espedin agave is the one that can be cultivated most consistently.
Wine Enthusiast, December 3rd, 2013
Top 50 Spirits
Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Arroqueño (Mexico; Del Maguey, Ranchos de Taos, NM). Del Maguey has built a stellar reputation with their single-village mezcals, and this beauty is a case in point. Sprightly aromas of pine, rosemary and sage lead into savory, citrusy and even meaty ﬂavors, with a mouthwatering brininess and a smoky ﬁnish that’s reminiscent of Islay Scotch. Pair this velvety mezcal with seafood or aged cheese. abv: 49% Price: $100.
Los Angeles Times, February 4th, 2014
Using the planet’s most expensive ham to flavor liquor:
Del Maguey Iberico mezcal
By S. Irene Virbila
Ever heard of pechuga, the mezcal from Oaxaca made by suspending a chicken breast (pechuga) from the top of the still? Forget about the worm in the bottle. That’s just folklore. But this, this is something wild and woolly from the back country.
Ron Cooper, the Venice artist and adventurer who jump-started the whole mezcal craze in this country with Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal almost two decades ago, was showing José André’s creative director Ruben García the pechuga process at the village of Santa Catarina Minas. It involves taking double distilled mezcal and distilling it for a third time with wild fruit, almonds, white rice and that chicken breast (skin removed) suspended by strings.
Like Andrés, García is an elBulli alum, and has a natural scientific bent. “We went out to Santa Catarina Minas to meet the old man that makes our pechuga in an old-style clay still with bamboo tubing,” says Cooper. More…
FoxNews.com, December 5th, 2013
Top 10 spirits in the world
Del Maguey Pechuga, $200
“One hundred percent certified organic and artisanal mezcal is all Del Maguey’s founder Ron Cooper produces. The trendsetting visionary started changing the way the world viewed mezcal back in 1995. The Pechuga hails from ancient recipes passed to Del Maguey through the Zapotec people of Southern Mexico.
Starting with a double distillate of Minero mezcal, they add 100 kilos of plums, apples, plantains, almonds, pineapple, and a handful of white rice as they begin a third distillation. The last touch is the hanging of a pechuga (chicken breast), cleaned and on the bone, above the distillation. The final product is unique with a hearty mezcal smokiness combined with fresh fruit aromas, an ocean-like breeze and a hint of basil. As complex as it sounds, its flavors meld together as a family — and fittingly, it is best served among family and friends.”
Sourthwest Airlines Spirit Magazine, November 2013
Alexandra Bookless, Head Bartender: The Passenger
Esquire Magazine, October 2013
The State of Drinking is Amazing
By David Wondrich
The Booze of Our Time…
“Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals. The best agave spirits 16th century technology can make, at a store near you.”
DrinkUpNY, August 31, 2013
The Vida Sleep Cocktail
By Warren Bobrow, the Cocktail Whisperer
“Vida, Vida, I love you. From the moment that I touched you to my lips I knew that Del Maguey “Vida” San Luis Del Rio Mezcal would be a favorite in my home. If it’s citrus that you like along with that ever-present aroma of the earth, then you’ve come to the right bottle. This liquid dream potion is woven along with the smoke and the fire of the many day method of cooking the agave to make a most approachable version of what we call Mezcal. And Mezcal this is- brimming with wet stones, smoked wood and bursts of lime coated chunks of raw salt…
Mezcal and Vida in particular give the flavor adventurer something to plan for their next tasty vacation! Go on a liquid driven vacation in your glass every time you swallow Mezcal.”
Download the Full Article
The Tasting Panel, July, 2013
HOW DEL MAGUEY’S RON COOPER REVIVED MEXICO’S ARTISANAL AGAVE SPIRIT
by David Ransom / photo by Adam Lerner
Download the Whole Article
Forbes Life, April 15, 2013
The EYE: Mezcal, Hold the Worm
By Richard Nalley, Forbes Staff
“This is one of the great connoisseur’s drinks of the world, in any category. Produced from wild agaves harvested at high altitude, it is a seductively dislocating, subtly knit but extreme stream of sensory information.”
Del Maguey was born in 1995 when artist Ron Cooper raised $120,000 by selling half shares in bottlings from four tiny distilleries he had discovered in the backwaters of Oaxaca. What followed was “18 years of hard work converting one person at a time.” It was also 18 years that sucked in fees from his artwork, proceeds from the sale of his Taos trading post and the reinvestment of any revenue the brand generated– he estimates about $800,000 all in. Thanks to Vida, a new lower priced bottling (about $35 versus $60 plus ) and a modest U.S. mezcal groundswell, “We actually started making money in 2011.” His reaction: Invest in a new “Vino de Mezcal” series of supermicrosize lots from the deep boondocks. Explains Cooper : “That’s how I get to continue my adventure.”
bonappetit.com, February 27, 2013
Until just a few years ago, the negroni was an insiders’ secret. The classic Italian cocktail–equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, allegedly invented in 1919 and named for Count Camillo Negroni–was a secret handshake, a sign to bartenders that you knew what you liked, and how to order it.
These days, American bartenders are adding Domain de Canton ginger liqueur or Gran Classico bitter instead of Campari, swapping in mezcal for gin, adding blood-orange juice for a dash of citrusy sweetness. Young has even started bottling versions of the drink at Saxon + Parole, while the head barkeep at another New York bar is barrel-conditioning his twist on the negroni.
Jacques Bezuidenhout, Fifth Floor, San Francisco
1.25 oz. Del Maguey Tobala mezcal
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Food&Wine.com, December 2012
2013 Cocktail Trends
Next Mainstream Spirit: Mezcal
The year 2012 was the year of Negronis, barrel-aged cocktails and gin. But with cocktail culture flourishing in the US, and innovative bartenders coming up with new, spectacular drinks every day, those trends may soon be out of date. To find out what 2013 holds for the world of cocktails, bars and spirits, F&W interviewed bartenders from across the country, who predict a world of restrained and sophisticated low-alcohol cocktails, tequila at brunch and tableside drink service. Here, the top 15 trends in cocktails for the coming year.
“Ron Cooper has really paved the path for other mezcals to hit the US market and wow, there are a lot of amazing ones out there.”
—Jaymee Mandeville; Drago Centro, Los Angeles
“Mezcal is going to make the next leap in people’s consciousness. Look for Santa Catarina Minas’s very rare Arroqueño and Santo Domingo Albarradas made from the espadín variety of maguey (agave).”
—Jackson Cannon; The Hawthorne, Boston
Wine & Spirits, Buying Guide 2013
“San Luis del Rio Azul may be the most fascinating mezcal ever produced”
Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2012
THE INSIDE SCOOP ON FOOD IN LOS ANGELES
My current cocktail obsession: Hometown Hero from Jaleo
My version of Hometown Hero, a cocktail from José Andrés’ Jaleo that includes mezcal, Cocchi Americano vermouth and a grapefruit- and cinnamon-infused simple syrup.
By S. Irene Virbila
When I was in Washington, D.C., recently, I got turned around and took the wrong bus. When I got off, I realized I must be very close to Jaleo, the first restaurant of Spanish chef José Andrés (The Bazaar). It had just been redone and I wanted to check it out. All quiet on a Saturday afternoon. We took two seats at the bar and ordered a glass of Albariño and the cocktail a new friend had enthusiastically recommended: Hometown Hero. I loved the cocktail’s tart sweetness, the almost smoky taste of the mezcal and the bitter herbs of Cocchi Americano vermouth with a high note of cinnamon.
The first time I made this cocktail, I had only tequila in the house. It was good but just didn’t have the requisite kick. I went out and bought a bottle of mescal without having a clue which to buy, choosing something that turned out to be far too strong. So I did what I should have done in the first place: called the bar at Jaleo to find out what they used in Hometown Hero. It’s Vida de San Luis del Rio from Del Maguey. Wally’s has it, as do a number of other places around town. What a difference.
Hometown Hero from José Andrés’ Jaleo
1 1/2 ounces mezcal
1 ounce Cocchi Americano (white vermouth)
1 ounce grapefruit cinnamon syrup (see below)
Lemon or lime juice as needed
To make syrup: Take one grapefruit. Peel with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler. Throw the peel into a saucepan. Squeeze the grapefruit juice into a measuring cup. Then add one part sugar, one part water to one part grapefruit juice. (The Oroblanco grapefruit I used yields about 1/2 cup.) Pour everything into the saucepan, add two cinnamon sticks and cook until the sugar dissolves and the liquid boils, then turn off and let cool.
Note: When making the cocktail, adjust the sweetness by adding a little lemon or lime juice.
Serve on the rocks with a garnish of lemon or lime peel.
Beverage Media, September 2012
Mezcal Steps Up: Meet Tequilas Crazy Agave Kin
By Jack Robertiello
Of all the effects wrought on the spirit world by the 21st century cocktail revolution, none was as unpredictable and as fascinating as the emergence of mezcal as a quality ingredient.
Even when tequila shed its rambunctious reputation, its crazy uncle (see sidebar on mezcal facts) could unnerve even the most seasoned drinker with its rustic tang and smoky assault. If tequila was Robert Downey Jr., a bad boy gone good, then mezcal was Charlie Sheen—unrepentant, unregenerate and bad down to the bone.
That was the image, anyway, and it was hard to erase, though a few voices continued to cry out in the wilderness. One man in particular, Ron Cooper of Del Maguey, persisted, developing great respect for the varieties of single-village mezcals he’s brought here since 1995.
Bars and restaurants featuring Mexican spirits have done their part, and cocktail bars as well, notably led by NYC’s Mayhuel, where barman Phil Ward’s Oaxacan Old-Fashioned caught attention and has been frequently copied. Restaurateur José Andrés celebrated the spirit at his annual Mexican festival in March at Las Vegas’s China Poblano; the celebration included the Oaxacan Swizzle (Del Maguey Vida, ruby port, fresh pressed apples, lime, ginger and housemade orange bitters).
Rick Bayless & Frontera News Tweet, June 15, 2012
Aspen Food & Wine Classic
Tweeted from chef José Andrés event, “Casa José Spanish Barbecue”.
Wine & Spirits, June 2012
Esquire Magazine, May 2012
“Good artisinal Oaxacan mezcals, such as the single-village ones imported by Del Maguey (the pioneer in the field), generally cost north of $50 a bottle. Because it’s distilled to bottling proof or close to it (most spirits are distilled to a much higher degree of alcohol and then diluted), its flavor is deep and penetrating”
Recommended: Del Maguey’s Vida ($36)
Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2012
Philadelphia Enquirer, April 29, 2012
Southwest Airlines – Spirit, December 2011
Los Angeles Times Magazine, September 2011
San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, January 2, 2011
10 Most Memorable Wines of 2010
(N0. 6 DM Santo Domingo Albarradas!)
6. Del Maguey Santo Domingo Albarradas Mezcal ($79, importer: Del Maguey Ltd.): Am I allowed to sneak a mezcal into a wine Top 10 list? When I start making comparisons to Pinot Noir, I think I am.
Del Maguey, the label created by mezcal missionary Ron Cooper, has upended the world of agave spirits. If most of the attention for Del Maguey gravitates to its benchmark Chichicapa bottle or the super-rare Tobala, I swear by my affinity for this lesser-known choice.
Made in the remote Mixe region east of Oaxaca (“one bus in and out every Sunday,” Cooper says) by Espiridion Morales Luis and son Juan, this is the distillate of espadin agave grown at nearly 9,000 feet in yellow granite and chalk, essentially in a cloud forest. (For more, see sfgate.com/ZKUC.)
If its sibling mezcals are more robust, this one wears ballet slippers – full of floral high tones, peaches, pepper and ginger. It is, frankly, a shame to do anything but sip the Albarradas slowly, perhaps with a plate of white-fleshed ceviche on the side.
Wine Enthusiast, December 2010
Food & Wine, August 2008
Imbibe Magazine May/June 2006