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“There are many gifts to choose from other than a simple tequila bottle for the agave lover in your life,” says Ignacio “Nacho” Jimenez, founder of the award-winning tequila bar Ghost Donkey in New York City. “There are gifts that can complement their knowledge, bring style to their glassware set, or simply make their home look good.”
The one thing to keep in mind with tequila and mezcal lovers is they are just as much in love with the spirit’s heritage as they are with the liquid itself. That said, Jimenez notes, “as a general rule I recommend things that support and promote the community. With tequila and mezcal, it is incredibly important to buy from brands that promote sustainability: not only of the product but of the people involved in the production.”
So skip the shot glasses, and opt for thoughtfully-made gifts that will pair perfectly with their favorite bottles. Below, Jimenez and other agave experts recommend the best gifts for tequila and mezcal fans.
Best Bottle: Rezpiral Tepextate Mezcal
If you are going to get the agave spirit lover in your life a bottle, Jimenez notes that it should be a truly special one. “Reina Sanchez, the woman behind Rezpiral, is one of the few women making mezcal. She learned from her grandfather and has earned a reputation as one of the best in the business. Her tiny production spirits are renowned in Oaxaca and cherished at the few lucky local drinking establishments that can procure them. Rezpiral’s small scale allows for the advocacy of diversity on different levels, from supporting the autonomy of producers and their continued production of single batch artisanal agave distillates to the preservation of local land control.”
Jimenez notes that “This rare tepestate (a rare type of agave) has toasted caramel, piloncillo, chocolate and maple on the nose. Earth on the palate. Long finish with dry vegetable notes. This is a show-off bottle for sure for the mezcal lover in your life.”
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Best Book: Finding Mezcal by Ron Cooper
“The tequila lover in your life might be ready to broaden their horizons into Mezcal,” describes Dean Hurst, beverage director for Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa Bay. If so, “'Finding Mezcal' is an accounting of Ron Cooper’s journey to finding this ancient spirit and just might lead the reader to their own moment of discovery.” In the pages, the man behind Del Maguey (who is almost single-handedly responsible for the mezcal craze in the U.S.) gets deeply personal, sharing his journey in the world of mezcal (including some fantastic cocktails along the way).
Jimenez also highly recommends gifting this book. “This is a great book for lovers of agave spirits. It follows Ron Cooper, a leading voice in the artisanal mezcal movement, on his journey through the land of Mexico and his deep love for the spirit. It’s a must-read for anyone who recently got into mezcal or has been a long-lasting imbiber.”
Best Tequila Glasses: Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glasses
“The perfect gift for every tequila lover and spirits connoisseur this holiday season is a set of the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glasses,” says Roberto Rosa of Gran Centenario Tequila. “Most people have never tasted tequila in a proper tasting glass—usually enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail—but these flutes take the experience of tequila to another level. Designed specifically with tequila in mind, these glasses really open up the liquid, allowing the alcohol to evaporate ever so slightly so that all the aromas can shine through for the ultimate sip and experience.”
Jose Valdez, the Maestro Tequilero of Tequila Partida, agrees. "Good tequila should be sipped, so I highly recommend investing in your glassware. While I'm tasting, either while working or simply enjoying with friends, I love these. The flute glass helps to appreciate the organoleptic properties of the tequila, including the color tone, brilliance, body and cleanliness. The narrow diameter of the glass encourages the concentration of aromas, enhancing the different layers.”
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Best Mezcal Glasses: Cocktail Kingdom Veladora Mezcal Glass
While tequila drinkers in North America opt for shot glasses, agave spirits are traditionally sipped out of copitas, small bowls made of clay or coconut shell. “While copitas are seeing some hype as the popularity of tequila and mezcal increases (and I do find them beautiful), I find these traditional shot glasses to be easier to store and care for. In addition, they are better at concentrating the aromatics of the spirit,” describes Daniel Villa, a bartender at MILA Miami.
These glasses are the best of both worlds. They are designed specifically to highlight the complex flavors of mezcal, but can double as shot glasses in a pinch. “Additionally, if you were to travel throughout Mexico, you would find that bars and even many distilleries use these in much wider abundance than clay copitas,” says Villa. “They'd be right at home alongside some orange slices sprinkled with sal de gusano.” Each glass measures just under three inches high and can hold 2.7 ounces of agave spirit.
Best Pantry Item: Sal De Gusano, Agave Worm Salt and Sal De Chapulín, Grasshopper Salt
“This duo of sal de gusano (salt made from agave worms) and sal de chapulín (salt made from grasshoppers) is a great gift for your friend or loved one who most enjoys sipping their agave spirits neat,” advises Villa. “Traditionally, these spices are sprinkled over wedges or slices of orange to be snacked upon in between sips of tequila, mezcal, or raicilla as a complementary flavor enhancer and palate cleanser. The salts are traditionally prepared with wild red grasshoppers and agave worms that are harvested directly from agave farms and contribute to their ecosystem. The worms in particular have a strong sweetness to their character that is reminiscent of agave nectar itself. They contribute a lovely roundness to the salt blend, while the sal de chapulín lends an earthier, spicier note. They're fantastic to have around if you're hosting a mezcal or tequila tasting!”
Jimenez agrees. “Sal Mitla crafts some pretty cool artisanal salt in a variety of flavors to complement mezcal or tequila tastings.” This sal de gusano is made with an Oaxacan delicacy, agave worms while the chapulín salts are made from toasted grasshoppers.
Best Home Item: Volcanic Rock Mezcal Flight Tray
“Provide the tequila lover in your life a tasting experience that will blow their mind,” says Casey Jo Holman, a bartender at Compère Lapin in New Orleans. “Two or three bottles of interesting or weird agave spirits (or sotol!) and if you want to go above and beyond, Etsy offers tons of sellers slinging personalized wood boards for the connoisseur in your life.”
This set includes three stone copitas, the traditional way to showcase an agave spirit’s flavors, on a long stone flight tray. The copitas are handmade in Puebla in east-central Mexico from stone sourced from the Popocatepetl Volcano.
Pour out a variety of different styles of mezcal and tequila and use the flight to compare and contrast different flavors, or conduct a blind tasting.
Best Budget: Mezcal: The History, Crafts & Cocktails of the Ultimate World Spirit
“Emma Janzen’s fantastic mezcal book offers a comprehensive journey into the world of mezcal and its impact in the cocktail community through the cocktails devoted to the spirit,” recommends Jimenez. “It is well-researched and another must for those just starting to learn about the spirit.”
The authoritative, James Beard-nominated book is a guide to the world of mezcal, debunking misconceptions and telling the story of the industry’s best mezcal makers. In addition to covering an incredible breadth of the spirit’s history, the book brings together insight from the producers themselves, sprinkled with feedback from bartenders across the continent who frequently work with mezcal.
In addition to telling the story of the spirit, top mezcal bars across the United States and Mexico contribute a selection of nearly fifty cocktails that accentuate its distinguishing qualities.
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Best Reposado: Clase Azul Reposado Tequila
Clase Azul crafts great tequila, grown from 100% Weber blue agave in Los Altos (the Jalisco highlands). The premium tequila is rested for eight months in second-use American oak for a rich flavor perfect for sipping. It’s subtle, with nuanced notes of floral, honey, vanilla and chamomile. Triple filtration gives the spirit a subtle sweetness with absolutely no burn, plus a subtle hint of smoke on the finish.
But the brand’s bottle is the real show-stopper here. Every statement-making white ceramic bottle is handcrafted in Mexico and painted over the span of eleven days by artisans in the village of Santa Maria Canchesada, meaning, every single one is a little bit different. Long after the bottle is empty it will hold a place on a home bar.
Best Agave-Inspired Art: Sacred Mexico Agave Print
“Sacred is a non-profit that aims to improve the lives of the communities where heirloom agave spirits are crafted,” says Jimenez. “You can find some cool prints about agave alongside other products, like copitas and even agave-inspired face-masks.”
The prints pay homage to regarded Mexican illustrators like Jose Guadalupe Posada, who practiced between 1851 and 1913. His political illustrations are known globally, and Posada has a reputation of being the “printmaker to the Mexican people”.
This print depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe appearing in an agave print, with townspeople praying to the agave. The print is blown up via silk screen and printed three feet wide, perfect for the home of any agave-lover. Sacred MX has Posada’s entire agave series.
Best Decanter: Agave Tequila Decanter
Every spirits lover needs a good decanter, and this one is specially crafted for agave spirits fans. Inside each decanter is a beautifully blooming green agave plant, inspired by the aged agaves that make mezcal, sotols, and tequilas. The elegant plant is made from blown green glass.
The decanters hold 850mL: perfect for an entire bottle of your favorite 25-ounce tequila bottle. It’s topped off with a 100% all-natural cork.
Use a decanter to proudly display your favorite tequilas and mezcals—a great decanter will preserve your tequila from the effects of air and oxygen and add a little elegance to serving the spirit. Or, use it to age or infuse spirits: perhaps tequila with a spicy pepper or citrus.
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Kate Dingwall is an experienced spirits writer and glassware collector. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years, from the best glassware to the best beer cocktail recipes. She loves a good Margarita but prefers it in a rocks glass.