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You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state. And we have included a sotol.
“If you thought the original Alipus couldn’t get any better, it just did with this Ensamble. This production is made by combining the popular espadín agave with a fave bicuishe agave. It’s sweet, smoky and addictive. No need to mix with anything; sip it all night long.”—Bricia Lopez, partner at Guelaguetza in Los Angeles and Mama Rabbit in Las Vegas
“I love this mezcal because I love this project. It's the true embodiment of community, and as a co-op of 36 families and growing, it's able to maintain sustainable farming, income and a labor force by having all of its espadín utilized in production versus individually selling off its crop once a year.” —Alba Huerta, owner of Julep in Houston
“It's smooth and fruity.”—Ryan Schaeffer, operational bartender at Four Corners bars in Chicago
“This is the gold standard in mezcal. The smokiness uncovers a nice orange undertone.”—Trevor Wheeler, bartender at The Meeting House in Rochester, Mich.
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“It's not from Oaxaca or cooked underground in fire pits but actually cooked more like tequila in clay ovens in the state of San Luis Potosí. It’s super vegetal, green and not like your other mezcals.”—Ivy Mix, owner of Leyenda in New York City
“If you're lucky enough to find a bottle or two of this very limited production, buy it and stash it. This is one that I believe will be worth a lot in the future. Fermented in cowhide and distilled in clay, this process of distilling mezcal is one-of-a-kind; very rarely does this production ever hit the American market.”—Lopez
“It’s a super easy mezcal to mix into any cocktail. This is what I keep around my home when people come over and I want to batch a great mezcal cocktail for them.”—Lopez
“It's fantastic for adding a smoky note to a bright citrus-forward cocktail.”—Wheeler
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“It’s perfect to mix and sip on. Ilegal is a really versatile mezcal that also happens to have some of the coolest brand advocacy out there—great crew.”—Tommy Flynn, beverage director at Paper Daisy in New York City
“This is one of three different varietals of sotol offered by this producer. The flavor is mineral-forward with caramel notes and vegetal and cedar on the palate. La Higuera is made in Elaborator de Sotol, a family-owned distillery of six generations and produced using traditional methods in Chihuahua by master sotolero Gerardo Ruelas. He cooks the different varieties in an outdoor conical oven fired by wood and rocks.”—Huerta
“If there was ever a mezcal that I would say represented everything I wanted in a bottle, this would be it. It's distilled in clay with the sweetest agave. Open on special occasions only.”—Lopez
“I am a hard-core Oaxacan mezcal gal. I love everything from there and find it hard to sway. That is until I tried Mezcales de Leyenda’s Durango. It has a hint of sweetness with a fresh mineral undertone.”—Lopez
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“It’s crisp, clean and everything you expect mezcal to be. It's a great "welcome" mezcal. I suggest you pour a glass to all your friends upon arriving to your holiday party.”—Lopez
“Just about any of the Nuestra Soledad mezcales are a fantastic buy at a great price—espadín agaves from different towns demonstrating different techniques and thus different flavors. I'm partial to the Ejutla, but really they're all fantastic.”—Mix
“Made in Santa Catarina Minas (known for clay distillation), this mezcal blends all the heavy hitters in the mezcal world. It’s fruity, herbaceous and earthy. Serve it only on very special occasions with your favorite and closest friends.”—Lopez
“There are a few things I love about this. Most importantly, it's a liter bottle. This mezcal project is curated by Mexican chef Daniel Tellez with mezcaleros Juan Claudio and Juan Manuel. This particular bottle is created by Don Rafael Cuenca, and the agave is grown completely wild. Reyes y Cobardes' focus on keeping a seed bank and reforestation programs truly sets it apart from all the rest. It composts spent agave pulp and converts unusable distillate into a fuel source to power machinery.”—Huerta
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“This is a phenomenal use of agave.”—Jose Medina Camacho, bar manager at Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Birmingham, Ala.
“I always have a bottle of Yola at home, ready to serve to my mezcal-loving friends. It’s affordable enough to share with friends and delicious enough to impress every mezcal lover.”—Lopez