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How Tequila Replaced Cosmos As The Celebrity Quaff Of Choice

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For some people, drinking tequila, a type of mezcal made from the blue agave plant in specific regions of Mexico — as well as other kinds of mezcal — is even a way to signal dissent from the presidency of Donald Trump, who has made a border wall between the United States and Mexico a priority.

When Mr. Trump announced his intention to run for office, John Rexer, the founder of Ilegal Mezcal, a company based in Oaxaca, Mexico, started a line of merchandise denigrating Mr. Trump’s character. The company hosts concerts with Planned Parenthood at an unmarked theater in Manhattan’s West Village and only makes mezcal “with espadin agave because it’s sustainable,” said Kaylan Rexer, 29, Ilegal’s brand director.

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Don’t Let a Little Thing Like the Law Stop You From Opening Your Dream Mezcal Bar

Mezcal in Guatemala

Even in daylight, candles are necessary at Café No Se. The bar is a bit of a vortex: a dingy-yet-charming cave with no natural light in Antigua, Guatemala. Following the path of Café No Se’s several windowless rooms and through a crawlspace door will eventually deposit the adventurer at yet another bar, where they serve only mezcal. In this room, I met with John Rexer, head honcho of not just the bar, but his own mezcal brand.

Yes, mezcal is still made in Oaxaca, Mexico, and not in Guatemala. And no, John Rexer is from neither. He’s originally from New York and migrated to Antigua around 2003, penniless and disillusioned with America and its politics after 9/11. Soon after arriving, he ducked into a closed-up doorway with a “for rent” sign during a rainstorm and subsequently found himself the new proprietor of an agave spirits bar. The only problem was that there were no agave spirits to be had in Guatemala and mezcal, Rexer’s elixir of choice, wasn’t yet legal for exportation out of Mexico.