The BAKERY on Bergen…How Sweet It Is!

Akim Vann, owner of The BAKERY on Bergen

“There’s always room for dessert!” –  a family belief which holds true for Akim Vann, owner of The BAKERY on Bergen, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The quaint, beautifully designed bakery may look familiar since it was recently renovated by BravoTVs Get a Room with Carson Kresley and Thom Filica, this year. Akim, a mother of four,  has a very diverse background but is the complete embodiment of Brooklyn. Raised by her mother who is first generation Chinese-American, (originally from Hong Kong), and her father who is African-American, (with roots in Savannah, Georgia, and Trinidad), Akim’s influences have always been undeniably global. Although she grew up with a heavily Asian influence, she is a native Brooklynite to the core.

Renovated interior

Akim feels that “being a product of Brooklyn, exposes you to many cultures and they all influence who I am.” Those influences are tastefully displayed throughout the bakery from the ambiance, to the staff, and of course, treats! Delectable selections such as Matcha Cupcakes and even savory choices like Bánh Mi Hotdogs and Organic Chicken Dumplings grace the menu along with traditional sweets. Akim believes the offerings at the bakery will not seem inconsistent because of Brooklyn’s myriad of cultures which contribute to her identity, and the essence of the neighborhood.  

Chocolate Chip Cookie with Smoked Sea Salt 

Known as a neighborhood favorite, the bakery offers delicious treats: the indulgent Chocolate Chip Cookies with smoked sea salt, (the delicate smoked element adds a whole new depth of flavor), the Carrot Cake is pure pleasure boasting a hearty amount of carrots, and the gluten-free treats like the Lemon Cake and Oatmeal Cranberry Coconut Cookies are simply heavenly. Both vegan and non-vegan customers praise this cookie due to its balance of sweet and tart from the cranberries, and texture from the coconut flakes.

Lemon Cake

The BAKERY on Bergen is open to the community daily except Mondays. Guests are greeted with a warm, welcoming smile, and will feel ‘at home.’ The mix of sweet aromas lures visitors further into comfy seats, quaint tables, and thoughtful pastel and whimsy adornments. This is the ambiance Akim Vann intends. She aims to unite Brooklynites and evoke feelings of old-school Brooklyn, (open doors and spreading love), with new-school Brooklyn, (trendy, cultural, and innovative ideas).

Dessert is often associated with celebration, comfort, and happiness while stimulating the senses. The BAKERY on Bergen achieves just that, whilst proving it is more than a bakery – it is a place where people from various walks of life can meet,  fellowship, and feel at home. Much like its home… the borough of Brooklyn.

Want to know more about this beloved bakery? Follow Akim (@unbelievablekim) and The BAKERY on Bergen (@thebakeryonbergen) for news on the latest treats, classes, and delish events!


Hudson Valley Wine and Food Fest Recap


Glasses were raised, bottles poured, growlers were filled, and hunger was quenched at Hudson Valley’s 17th Annual Wine and Food Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.  Hosted on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, thirsty crowds flocked to booths representing the best wine Hudson Valley has to offer. Featured rave-worthy vineyards include  Don Tony Perez, (Yonkers, NY), with its silky Petite Verdot, and Baldwin Vineyards’, (Pine Bush, NY), award-winning Strawberry Wine along with their unique hops-touting Autumn Crush, made with apples, pumpkin and hops.


The chic Tousey Winery, (Germantown, NY), definitely made a statement with its modern museum designed booth staring its beautiful, white dessert wine, Bloomé.


Mead, spirits and traditionally made ciders rounded out the delicious weekend libations. Mysto Mead, (Carmel, NY), a honey-based wine producer, showcased its wide variety of mead including the impressive, Silver Medalist: Basil Mint.

Many New York State distilleries showcased luscious, traditional and creative selections. Harvest  Spirits Farm Distillery (Valatie, NY) fans tasted clean, flavorful swills like the John Henry Single Malt Whiskey, Core Black Raspberry Vodka, and Cornelius Peach Brandy.

Harvest  Spirits Farm Distillery seletions

Another rad distillery in attendance was Olde Farm Distillery based in Hudson, New York. Female owned and operated, this distillery uses seasonal ingredients to make gems such as Cacao Maple Vodka, Smoked Maple Bourbon, and seasonal spirits.

New York Cideries had a great presence at the festival. Specializing in traditional craftsman and taste techniques, Pitchfork Cider in Hopewell, NY offered its fresh pressed, gluten-free cider.


Another popular cidery was Awestruck Hard Cider (Sidney, NY) which use 100% New York State apples in its thoughtfully crafted and named selections like Hometown Homicider, and the pleasant Lavender Hops.IMG_8610

The day also included cooking demos by local chefs, food artisans with homemade condiments, and alluring food trucks serving local grilled sweet corn, Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian food, gyros, pulled pork nachos, and so much more!



Time to taste, network, and learn at Bevcon 2018

bevcon-2016-day1-mrodriguez-082116-l-98.jpgIn just a few days, LaLa Land will have a beverage takeover like no other as the 3rd Annual BevCon comes to town. From August 19th until 21st beverage industry only convention is making its debut in Los Angeles but was birthed in Charleston, South Carolina by Angel Postell in and her dynamic team in 2016. Bevcon is an enlightening, three-day, networking event for everyone in the alcoholic and non-alcoholic tipple industry, filled with educational seminars presented by the best in the business, both domestic and globally. Angel took a few moments to share her thoughts on all things beverage, trends, and the exciting plans for BevCon 2018.

CannyCandi: What are your insights/ opinions in today’s current beverage culture?

Angel Postell: I think it’s really exciting. The chef side of things has gotten a lot of attention and support over the last several years. Beverages are really coming out on their own. There are communities [of people] dedicating themselves to beverages a lot more, and placing more emphasis on the imbibing culture in general. Also, people are enjoying drinks and becoming more thoughtful about what they drink instead of just ‘drinking’ to drink. They are asking questions i.e. “Where’s this wine is from?” and then getting excited about the educational aspect of their drink.

CC: Do you think anything is lacking in the beverage culture?

AP: Not exactly lacking, but I was recently reading something about emerging countries developing beverage products. This is exciting because it shows that you don’t have to be in a certain area to grow grapes to make wine. Plus, brewing has become such a big thing, same for distilling, and there’s such a big interest in mezcal. I think the next horizon is bringing this beverage movement global and exposing interesting techniques and practices all over the world.

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CC: Where do you see the culture going?

AP: I’m very excited about what’s done in Paris, Amsterdam, and Mexico regarding the different techniques used there. It’s cool! Those beverage professionals have different styles and preparations. We are just as advanced in America as they are, but we just do the same things in a different way. Also, there’s a huge interest in popups. I think that the culture today is interested in what’s new and the use of social media urges bars to be creative with concepts and approaches. Constantly changing menus and keeping things new, will become more normal. And yet, there will still be places where ‘the classics’ will always be available. So, there will be a good mix of the [classics and modern concepts].

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CC: BevCon seems like an ideal platform for smaller producers to share their product line. Was that one of your original intentions?

AP: Yes. My team was working with small craft producers who didn’t have the money or resources to do the bigger events. They wanted their products out there for people to try. So, I saw a void to fill. One of the main core elements of BevCon is to give artisanal craft producers the space to showcase themselves in a meaningful way, without spending a lot of money. We wanted to provide a space to connecting small brands to industry professionals who can help get the smaller brand products on the markets or get the product in establishments. Also, we work with midsize and larger producers who are showing their limited reserve products. They have an equal voice [at Bevcon, also,] without overpowering the smaller producers. As a result, we have seen the smaller ones receive great media exposure [through the event] which has taken them to a whole new level!

CC: Are there any learning sessions you are looking forward to attending?

AP: This year we’re offering One-Day master classes, for the first time which provides attendees a chance to really get the knowledge on how to achieve industry and business goals and education on specific trends. This is much better than bouncing around to different classes since attendees can stick with one specific track. I’ll attend the class on how to successfully open a bar, (we have great people teaching that), and I, personally, want to open a bar. We have one on the influence of Hip Hop on the wine and spirits industry. That’s going to be really cool. The Hip Hop culture is influential in so many ways and I love that it has such a presence in the beverage world.

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CC: Why was Los Angeles, California (L.A.) chosen as the host location for this year and next?

AP: It was almost surreal as to how we chose L.A. We always wanted to move the event to different cites, but I was invited to L.A. which was my first time there.  And I just fell in love with the city! It’s such a cool community with lots of energy, excitement, and diversity.  The beverage scene has definitely blossomed there. Hospitality is so genuine in all the neighborhoods with great vibes. L.A. is more accessible than Charleston is, so more international guests have been very receptive to participating this year.  I’m so pumped to be there and everyone has been very open and interested in hosting this year.

CC: I love the idea of pop-up bars all around the area. Is this a new idea for this year?

AP: We had popups in Charleston, but it’s more focused this year. Each night will feature three locations with guest bartenders making drinks paired with a special menu.  These popups will be the only activity open to the public. It’s great for social media because people can actually meet the bartenders and post all the excitement instantly. Guests can hop around since there’s no cost to attend. Just visit and order off the provided menu. Bar venues range rooftops, to speakeasies, and natural wine bars spanning Downtown, Koreatown, and Hollywood. I’m really looking forward to these because some of the best cocktails I have consumed have been at the BevCon popups.

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CC: What else do you envision for the future of BevCon?

AP: BevCon started out as a hobby of mine. My teams and I foresee it as a year-round experience by doing more programming around the country, such as a one-day mini BevCon experience, geared toward a city’s local community. This would work well for key market’s looking for more educational opportunities and exposure. Would be great to capture or record the live sessions and follow up with teleseminars throughout the year, too. And definitely, in a couple years, host an international BevCon. People will never stop eating and drinking, and the industry will always continue to grow globally.  



New Macallan Distillery Thrills in 4D & Debuts Edition No.4

Photo credit: Wes Tarca

The Scotch Whisky game has been changed! Single malt Scotch Whisky brand, Macallan, has raised the stakes with its new distillery in Speyside, Scotland – and it’s worth a serious visit. Scotland’s not on your itinerary this summer? You can still visit…virtually. This week, Macallan has built an immersive virtual reality experience for guests in Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall.

No passport needed, visitors (21 years old and older) will be transported to Speyside, to the beautiful estate and distillery within a massive, all-encompassing cube, alongside specialized projectors which display video of the grounds and in-depth views of all the distillery has to offer.

Photo credit: Wes Tarca

Participants can marvel at the panoramas above, behind and on either side. All senses will be heightened as 4D special audio, wind, and scent diffusion technology matches the footage being played. Further, you will be able to choose your own adventure and select which part of the distillery you’d like to see through interactive controls using leap motion and Microsoft Surface tablets.

And if that isn’t cool enough, you can sample the latest gem to the Macallan family, Edition No. 4 Whisky, which was crafted with the intrigue, sophistication, and modernity, with the new distillery in mind, by Master Distiller Nick Savage.

Photo credit: Wes Tarca

The Macallan Distillery Experience is open to guests and free of charge beginning Wednesday, July 25 through Friday, July 27 (which also happens to be National Scotch Day). Check out the schedule below:

Wednesday, July 25 – 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM

Thursday, July 26 – 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM

Friday, July 27 – 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM (National Scotch Day!)

Drink for A Cause! Negroni Week 2018

Negroni Week kick-off at The Rag Trader, Monday, June 4, 2018, in New York.
Photo Credit: Diane Bondareff

Summer not only means great weather, rest and relaxation, and al fresco fun, but it also means exciting swill-centric events as well. Kicking off the summer portion of the Spring and Summer Sipping Series is Negroni Week 2018.

During the first week of June, bars and restaurants mix classic Negronis and Negroni variations for charitable works. Venues choose a philanthropic organization to sponsor and officially register as a Negroni Week Location at During the celebration week, a portion of proceeds from the beloved cocktail sales are added to the venue’s overall charitable donation. To see where you can drink for a great cause near you, visit the official charity partners link.

Negroni Week kick-off at The Rag Trader, Monday, June 4, 2018, in New York.
New-Groni (Photo Credit: Diane Bondareff)

Negroni Week launched in 2013 as a celebration of one of the world’s great cocktail – the Negroni. Composed of equal parts of Campari (the iconic Italian aperitivo) gin, and sweet vermouth, this star sipper’s popularity has grown exponentially.  For the 6th consecutive year, the philanthropic movement, Negroni Week, aims to raise money for charities around the world. From 2013 to 2017, the movement grew from 100 participating venues to 7,770 venues worldwide which have raised nearly $1.5 million for charitable causes combined.

Negroni Week kick-off at The Rag Trader, Monday, June 4, 2018, in New York.
Paradise Negroni (Photo Credit: Diane Bondareff)



This is a huge deal for the hospitality and bartender industry, and major brands. Campari has partnered with the USBG National Charity Foundation (USBG Foundation) to introduce the first Campari Community Service Day, on June 5th. In more than 20 U.S. cities, bartenders, and Campari employees will join forces in community service acts in their respective cites. Further, Imbibe Magazine has been a grand supporter of Negroni Week awareness, venues, and as a partner in the collective effort to support selected charities.

Negroni Week kick-off at The Rag Trader, Monday, June 4, 2018, in New York.
Photo Credit: Diane Bondareff

The Negroni spirit is infectious! If you’d like to stir some at home, check out the delicious recipes below.


  • BARTENDER: Daniel Warrilow
  • Recipe:
    • 1oz Campari
    • 1oz Bulldog Gin
    • .5oz Amontillado Sherry
    • .5oz Strawberry Syrup
    • 4 dashes Tumeric Bitters
    • Stir and strain over a two-inch cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

new groni

Paradise Negroni

  • BARTENDER: Felicia Chin-Braxton
  • Recipe:
    • .75oz Campari
    • .75oz Cinzano 1757
    • 1.5oz Pineapple-infused Appleton Reserve*
        • 1 750 ml Appleton Reserve
        • 1 pineapple
        • Place 1 peeled and chopped pineapple in Appleton Reserve liquid, and let sit for 3 days before using in cocktail.
      • .25oz Wray and Nephew
      • 3 dashes Scrappy’s Lime Bitters
      • Stir ingredients and strain over crushed ice in rocks glass. Garnish with 3 picked pineapple fronds and an edible orchid.


Thai Basil Sbagliato

  • BARTENDER: Stacy Swenson
  • Recipe: 
    • 1 oz Campari
    • 1 oz Cinzano Dry Vermouth
    • .5 oz Pok Pok Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar
    • 1 oz Watermelon Juice
    • Generous pinch of fennel salt
    • Cinzano Prosecco
    • Build ingredients over ice in stemless wine glass, top with Prosecco. Garnish with a Thai Basil leaf.



Cherry Limeade Review

cherry limeade
Photo credit: Candice Dixon

There are some drinks I’ve enjoyed which remind me of childhood. Recently, I had a nostalgic experience through the Cherry Limeade at Neir’s Tavern – one of New York City’s oldest bars. This sipper tastes exactly like the cherry Jolly Rancher, a go-to kiddie favorite of mine.

Shaken with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum, grenadine,  and lime juice, this sweet ‘n tart swill is a crowd pleaser. It’s simple to make and a little too easy to enjoy. This may look and sound like a “girly” drink, but I hear both men and women rave about how refreshing and satisfying this tipple proves to be.

Want to try your hand at the Cherry Limeade? Learn how to shake it up on POUR.

Barra Mexico 2018 – The Future of the Bar

barra mexico pic

In less than a month, hundreds of cocktail culture influencers and major brands will flock to Mexico City for Barra Mexico, The Mexican Bar Show. Centered around this year’s theme, “The Future of the Bar,” the fourth annual international conference will showcase cutting edge techniques, leading tastemakers, and producers in the alcoholic beverage industry on June 10th – 11th, 2018. Co-founder, Ara Cavallo, took a few moments to pour some details about the anticipated event which includes 26 engaging courses, presentations, and of course killer parties!

CannyCandi: What is your background in the in the cocktail culture industry.

Ara Carvallo: I was a global brand manager for Lucas Bols in Amsterdam (Bols Genever, Bols Liquerus, Galliano) and worked there for 10 years. During the last four years of my experience, I was in charge of running their global bartending competition ‘Bols Around the World.’ Also, I’ve been a bartender for the past 20 years and still work at the Kanarie Club in Amsterdam. My business partner (and co-founder), Paula García, was the brand manager for mixology spirits at México’s largest spirits, wine and beer distributor, La Europea. She is a sommelier graduated and has experience at a winery in New Zealand.

CC: What is the inspiration behind Barra México?

AC: We wanted to create a platform to show off  México. The country has great spirits, ingredients, and gastronomy.  We believed that a platform, where all members of the industry can gather once a year, would help México’s cocktail industry put a firmer step on the worlds’ bar scene.

CC: Based on the promo videos and website pictures, the event seems very chic, sexy, and edgy. Was this a part of your vision for the event?

AC: The theme of Barra México this year is “The Future of the Bar.” We believe the future of the bar should be based on three pillars:

1) Technology: Bars should use technology to improve guest experiences, increase bar profitability, and staff accountability.

2) Sustainability: [Through sustainability, bar are cleaner, and] provide carbon neutrality, lower water footprint, and veganism.

3) A culture of peace in bars: Facilitate diversity, gender equity, equality, non-violence.

We strongly believe that we can only achieve this future if more women become a part of the industry leaders. Therefore, the key visual of Barra México 2018 are 12 of the best bartenders in México (who happen to be women).

CC: What makes México City so attractive for major cocktail culture events?

AC: México City is an ideal place to experience multicultural, cosmopolitan cocktail culture, and hosts three of the World’s 100 Best Bars (Limantour at number 14, Fifty Mils Bar at number 61 and Hanky Panky at number 75).  Plus, it has an amazing gastronomic scene, including two restaurants ranking in the premier World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (Pujol at number 20 and Quintonil at number 22). México is the 11th largest spirits producer in the world providing Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol, Bacanora, Charanda, and Rum as well as regional spirits like Raicilla and Pox.

CC: What classes would you love to attend at Barra México?

AC: I’m really looking forward to seeing Philp Duff, he is one of my favorite presenters. Also, Tess Pothumus, from Amsterdam, will be giving a seminar on Dutch drinking culture, sponsored by the Dutch Embassy. Additionally, I’m excited about having Kate Gerwin on the stage, she is a strong activist for female empowerment in the bar scene.

CC: What parties are you looking forward to and why?

AC: The opening party is always the best; we are lucky to have the Four Seasons México City hotel as a main sponsor, for three years in a row. We will be hosting the party in the hotel’s main garden which is stunning.

CC: Who are some of the key players/presenters attending this year?

AC: All major brands are exhibiting at Barra México:  LVMH will present a spectacular bar in the middle of the event space which will resemble “the bar of the future.” Key players including  William Grant, Pernod Ricard, Cuervo, Diageo, Brown Forman,  will be there. We will also have the Country of Perú presenting pisco.

CC: Personally, what do you love about planning and hosting  Barra México?

AC: Although it is very challenging and at times stressful, the Méxican bartending scene is extremely talented and supportive [of the Barra México team].  The same goes for the Mexican craft spirits industry. It is very creative and positive, dealing with them on a daily basis gives us energy and makes us work harder to make the world more aware of the richness of the Mexican bar & craft spirits scene.


Emma Janzen, Author of Mezcal, Spills About Her Debut, Award-Nominated Book

CVR Mezcal - Voyageur

Mezcal is an agave based spirit, similar to tequila, but processed differently. The difference in preparation is what creates the intrigue and mystery behind the spirit.  Although the mezcal mysteries seem endless, there is a new, easy to understand guide to help debunk misconceptions and provides stepping stones for our personal discovery of the elusive swill. Mezcal – The History, Craft, & Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit, by Emma Janzen, is intended to re-frame our foggy notions of Mezcal. I had the honor of speaking with Emma about the James Beard nominated book,  the stories within, and the voices shared in her writing.


CannyCandi: In the acknowledgements, you mention this guide is more of a “love letter to mezcal” (I support your sentiments!).  When and how did your love affair with mezcal start?

Emma Janzen: Ten years ago, I was working as an assistant at a daily newspaper in Austin, TX. I was desperate for more writing and production. And also, my husband (my boyfriend at the time) and I were looking to do more outside of work together. We joined a class, Tipsy Tech, run by the Tipsy Texan, aka David Alan. We started paying attention to different spirits and it was around the time mezcal was starting to come into The States, not as a new category because Del Maguey had been around for a long time, but there were new brands like Wahaka starting to come in. I tried some of those and went to Tales of the Cocktail that year. So, my first published paper was about mezcal. I got hooked! I had so many questions and just kept with it. I wrote as many articles as I could for various publications and kept tabs on the industry until the book came along.     

CC: What and how were you inspired to write the book?

EJ: I wrote an article in 2016 while here in Chicago, in Logan Square, and noticed a new mezcal bar (a mazcaleria) opening up. And was thinking about the amount of Mezcal bars in America and wrote a short article about it for Imbibe. A publisher at Quarto Press saw my article and reached out to me. He said I’ve been thinking about Mezcal as a book topic for a while and what do you think about that? Do you think it’s a viable idea? I wrote a novel in response! It included why it’s a perfect time and perfect spirit to write about. I must have impressed him because he asked me if I wanted to write it! It’s funny because people say Mezcal always finds you. I knew I always wanted to write a book, but this topic just felt perfect when it was presented.

CC: Could you talk a bit about the people who guided you along the journey of writing Mezcal?

EJ: I went into this project really knowing who the main players are in this industry – who made the biggest impact on the category and the producers who really lead the charge, and thinking that these people would be my spirit guides.  And so, the way it shook out, that kind of didn’t happen at all! It was really frustrating, but I ended up meeting all sorts of new people, [somewhat] new brands and experts who helped shape the way this book came together. I let mezcal guide me. I had an expectation of who was going to help me and that fell through so I let go of expectations. I think it worked out for the best that way because I feel like I have a much more diverse selection of perspectives and voices in the final book, than there might have been if I had stuck with the original people I set out to talk with.  


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Oaxaca Old Fashioned (photo by Emma Janzen)

CC: What kept you motivated to complete the book as challenges arose?

EJ: Oooo, the first word that comes to mind is the ‘deadline!!’ And two other motivations: one was, almost ‘fear’ because I felt like I had something to prove because I walked into the project not as a formal expert on Mezcal, I didn’t have an [authoritative] platform. I thought people would be like ‘Who the hell is this chick?’ I have never written another book before although I have been a writer for a long time. I felt like the first book I need to nail it. I need to do a really good job with this.  So that was a definite motivation. On a similar note, I felt there wasn’t a really good English language introduction which was organized super well, easy for people to understand, and was beautiful. I had a personal responsibility to really get it right so I could explain this spirit, but bigger than the spirit was to explain this culture: it’s the Mexican [people’s] history and it’s their day-to-day. I wanted to make sure I honored their culture and communicated it in a way that was special and gave a good voice to the people making mezcal. This wasn’t my story, it’s their story, so I wanted to work really hard so I wouldn’t mess it up!

CC: The book is very comprehensive, how did you decide to organize the content and parts of the book?

EJ: I knew going into the project I didn’t’ want to dig too deep into the distant history because I wanted people to relate to the subject matter more. So, that’s why I decided to make it more about the modern history of the spirit and how it came to rise in America. It’s an English language book so I wanted it to connect with American audiences as well as represent the culture of mezcal. That’s why I wanted to start with explaining what it is in a way that it’s not so cut – and – dry and boring. Didn’t want it to read as a textbook.  I worked some of my own stories into the book to put [readers] in that setting so they would imagine what it’s like to be in Mexcaloteca in Oaxaca or any of the other remote villages. The book starts in a bar where a lot of American’s would learn about the spirit as if a bartender is explaining what it is. And then goes into a guide of the actual [agave] plants, then production to how it’s made. I wanted to include cocktails because I felt you can’t talk about how mezcal became what it is today in America without talking about cocktails. It was bartenders who first understood it and started teaching people. Wanted to get a good collection of recipes together with classic and modern cocktails for diversity, so you can pick it up and have a cocktail for any season or occasion as well as really simple to make.

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Mezcal Margarita, (photo by Emma Janzen)

CC: You mentioned you always considered the quote from Tio Rey,” the act of making mezcal being a blessing more so than the spirit itself…,” while writing the book. How did you keep that in mind while writing the book?

EJ: I think it’s easy for Americans to talk about mezcal only in the most romantic of terms. There is so much romance to the spirit: the way it’s made, the practice has been handed down from generation to generation in so many families. It’s mysterious and magical – so many brands play that up and that’s what makes mezcal so captivating. But Tio Reys comments grounded my perspective a little more. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico, and for so many of these families, [making mezcal] isn’t something they suddenly decided to do. [They think]: this is what I know how to do. I’m a farmer growing corn or other crops to bring in income and it’s another way to put food on the table. I felt this was important to keep in mind because it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of mezcal, but it’s important to remember that it is supporting people’s livelihoods. It’s good to keep this balance in mind.

CC: What’s the controversy involving mezcal in cocktails?  

EJ: At the beginning [of the cocktail section], I point out that in the mezcal drinking community, for a long time, people believe you shouldn’t mix or shoot the spirit. You should sip it. It is a beautiful spirit, and deserves the respect of savoring it in its purest form. The use of mezcal in cocktails is a little controversial for that reason, many purists feel cocktails mask the essence and lose all the character. I agree with that and respectfully disagree. I feel mezcal works very well in cocktails. There’s another aspect to the topic of sustainability. Mezcal is a spirit that takes a lot of time to produce. The most common mezcal varieties made these days take five to seven years for the plant to grow before they can be harvested and turned into the liquid. And as mezcal becomes more popular, the industry needs to keep the idea of sustainability in mind or else these plants won’t exist anymore if you overharvest. The idea of mezcal being a cocktail ingredient discourages purists because you’re using so much of it.

CC: Right now, you are riding the wave of Mezcal, but are there other books or ideas in the pipeline?

EJ: I don’t have anything formal right now on the books. Yet, one category of drink that is experiencing a resurgence but also has an interesting history is American Cider. They’re so many companies looking back at pre-prohibition cider traditions and making these beautiful ciders from heirloom apples. Many people who believe they don’t like cider but I want to challenge them to look a little harder. You might think you dislike cider but there’s probably one out there for you… you just haven’t’ found it yet. If you like beer or wine, there’s a cider you’ll like since it’s a beautiful middle ground between those two [wine and beer] and this would make for a really interesting deep dive.

To get your hands on this fun, fabulous read (and check out all the stellar photos taken by Emma!), visit the links below. Happy reading and enjoy the smokey sips!

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound