By: Matt Dewey
Starting March 5th, José Andrés and his team at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana are celebrating their 5th annual Tequila and Mezcal Festival. The festival runs from March 5th to March 18th and was created to bring a little bit of warmth to DC at the end of winter.
The first week of the festival focuses on mezcal, which is a popular drink found on the Caribbean side of Mexico; for drinkers unfamiliar with mezcal, it’s essentially tequila with a smokey flavor. Week two of the event focuses on the more well-known tequila.
Each day during the festival from 4-6 p.m. Oyamel is offering free tastings of mezcal or Tequila (depending on the week), with some of the world’s most notable producers of both mezcal and tequila on-hand to conduct the tastings.
Chef Omar Rodriguez has created a 4 course menu with each beverage in mind. Reservations are required for dinner, as seating is limited, but walk-ins are welcomed for the tastings. If you can’t get a table for dinner, the bar will have a special bar menu with a selection of plates you would expect to find in a Mexican Cantina (like amazing Mexican Chicken Wings).
Capital Cooking was on-hand to taste some of the delicious drinks and food that will be featured on the special menu. I was especially impressed with the Oaxacan Swizzle, which was an apple based mezcal drink that brought out the natural flavors of apples and plums found in the mezcal.
The drink that stole the show was the T and T (tequila and tonic). What separates the T and T from other drinks on the menu is the house made Tequila, which features over 30 botanicals that give it a similar taste to gin--it’s incredibly refreshing. Another drink I can recommend is the Oyamel Margarita with mezcal and salt foam (salt foam is awesome and needs to be seen to be believed), this is Jose Andreas’s favorite drink. The mezcal and tequila Festival is a great way to experience some food and drinks from parts of Mexico you otherwise wouldn’t, and if nothing else, go to one of the tastings to give mezcal a shot and try some delicious chicken wings.