Saturday, August 5, 2017

#114: ​Mezcalería Tobalá

The Bar

Mezcalería Tobalá. 1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/5/17 @ 11pm.

The Drink

Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal. $10.

My recent acquired taste for smoky liquors has given me a newfound appreciation for mezcal, but it's still hard for me to give detailed tasting notes. I can tell you that Chichicapa, which like many of distillery's products is named after the small Oaxacan village where it's made, has a slightly sweet aftertaste to it that balances out the smokiness, and that it was full of all kinds of complex flavors that I would quite frankly be throwing darts at if I attempted to enumerate. Does "smoky, yet smooth" actually communicate anything? A few years ago the NY Times rated it #1 in their sample, and while I am still but a neophyte mezcal drinker it certainly was some of the best I've had so far. I am extremely impressed by the amount of info provided about the mezcal on the distiller's site; if you thought that a simple description of terroir was a bit much, then you will smile at least a little bit at discovering that Chichicapa is made with well water, and milled with a horse and wheel. By the way, that "San Judas Tadeo" votive candle is referring to Jude the Apostle, the patron saint of lost causes who has a special significance in Mexico, not the infamous Judas you're thinking of. I wouldn't want to pay 30 pieces of silver for a little terra cotta bowl of mezcal either.

The Crew

Misty, Aaron, Nick, Ryan (not pictured).


On Fridays and Saturdays only, the structure above the stone chapel of Whisler's opens up to the public in order that they might make the procession up the staircase to consume portions of mezcal according to their desires. It's a mezcalería, the kind of niche bar that not too long ago would not have been economical in Austin, but has now become possible thanks to this city's increasing affluence, neophilia, and sophistication of taste. As far as I know Techo on Manor, which is just a few years old, is the only other mezcalería in the city, so get to either of these establishments quick so you can brag that you were in on the crest of this mezcal wave. The owners of Whisler's/Mezcalería Tobalá have a genuine passion for mezcal and the drinking experience that surrounds it, so expect a singular decor - inside the small boxy room it's crammed full of stuffed heads, votive candles, and other bric-à-brac that encourages you to sit down and stay a while, soaking in the vibe. Soaking in the sweat, too: there's not a ton of seating because of the small proportions, so watch out for how sweltering it can get on those hot summer nights, when it more resembles a sweat lodge than a mezcalería. Come on in and get friendly!

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