Rock star Sammy Hagar’s second act has been focused, specifically, on the agave plant. His first foray into Mexican business was 20 years ago, with his popular cantina, Cabo Wabo, in Cabo San Lucas–a venture that eventually spawned his tequila brand by the same name. Ten years later, he sold that the controlling interest of Cabo Wabo to Gruppo Campari for a cool $80 million. After that, it seems that Hagar needed a new challenge: mezcal.
As any good entrepreneur would notice, mezcal’s popularity has soared in recent years. Most of Mexico’s supply comes from the southern state of Oaxaca, where a variety of agaves are roasted in an earthen pit before being distilled, creating a distinctive flavor profile. Tequila uses only the blue agave, which is then cooked in stainless steel ovens, removing smoke from the production process.
Hagar teamed up with Maroon 5 lead Adam Levine to produce Santo Puro Mezquila ($55), which is the first combination of tequila and mezcal on the market. The idea was born out of an experience where Hagar and Levine were hanging out, drinking tequila. They decided to try mezcal and both decided it was too strong and smoky, so, not wanting to offend their host, they poured it back into an already full tequila shot. After drinking it and realizing it tasted good, the idea for “mezquila” was born.
Some purists are shocked and dismayed–others say that, once sampled, it’s hard to deny how delicious it is. They’ve clearly hit a sweet spot: certain drinkers think tequila lacks a harder edge and others eschew mezcal because of its smoky bite. Mezquila offers the best of both while taming the more intense qualities of the other. Whatever your preferences, pulling a bottle of Santo Puro Mezquila at your next party is sure to cause a stir, one way or the other.
By Jackie Bryant