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Tequila and Mezcal Are Over. Here’s What to Drink Next

Do you know your raicilla from your bacanora?

relates to Tequila and Mezcal Are Over. Here’s What to Drink Next

Photo Illustration: 731; Bottles: Vendors

Tequila tends to command plenty of excitement this time of year, though American drinkers don’t limit their enthusiasm to Cinco de Mayo: The U.S. imports more of Mexico’s national liquor than any other country. Since 2002 the volume of consumption has swelled 158%, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., to 20 million 9-liter cases last year. That’s a lot of margaritas.

But many Americans have been thirsting for something more. I began exploring smoky mezcal around the start of the last decade, and by the late 2010s I happily watched as the liquid commodity of Oaxaca made its way into the mainstream. Fuller in flavor and less industrial than its tequila counterparts, it seemed custom-built for the connoisseur.