Perhaps wondering about the alcohol content of these two spirits is a sub-question of “what’s the difference between Mezcal and tequila?” Or perhaps you’re not really in it for the details and are just trying to figure out which of these spirits will get you feeling all warm, cozy, and dance-y ASAP.
Either is perfectly valid. So let’s get to it.
If You’re Looking to Get Your Buzz On...
We’d like to first point out that there are more differences between Mezcal and tequila than just their alcohol content. Also, Mezcal is too sophisticated and mature of a spirit to merely be slamming shots of it.
If you’re looking to get your buzz on, everyone knows that “tequila takes clothes off.” This could be from the alcohol content, but it could also be from the storyline that tequila carries with it. Tequila brings with it associations of body shots, dancing on tabletops, and well, you know the rest...
The thing is, Mezcal and tequila often have the same alcohol content. So technically, you’ll get your buzz on just the same no matter which of these spirits you’re sipping on. (Except, one doesn't really sip tequila. In fact, the body somewhat rejects the mere thought of doing so...)
Now that we’ve clarified that either spirit will help you get your buzz on, it’s time to share some of the other differences between Mezcal and tequila. Knowledge is power, and knowing the differences will help you make the best choice the next time you’re staring at the shelves in your local liquor store.
How Boozy Are We Talking?
The standard method for specifying the amount of alcohol in a spirit is the measure of alcohol-by-volume (ABV). For example, Mezcal Rosaluna is 40% ABV, telling us that in the 750ml bottle, 40% of the liquid is alcohol.
Distilled spirits (alcoholic beverages coming from distilled fermented fruits or other starches) can be labeled in another way, too. You may see a number and word, i.e., “80-proof.” Proof is equivalent to twice the ABV. So, a bottle of 80-proof has the same alcohol content as a bottle of 40% ABV. #Alcohol101.
Overall, Mezcal is pretty boozy, and different brands often vary between 40 and 50% ABV. However, tequila is also generally in the range of about 38 to 55% ABV. So basically, these spirits are just about the same in their levels of booziness. If you’re looking to get your buzz on, pay attention to the labels and use your (new) knowledge of alcohol labeling.
(P.S., from our past regrets to yours, please always enjoy responsibly).
Tequila Isn’t Always 100% Agave
Both Mezcal and tequila come from agave plants.
Out of the 200 agave species that exist, Mezcal can be made from around 30 of them. Tequila, on the other hand, can only be made from one. Agave carries with it the characteristics of the terroir it is grown in, just like wine varietals. Agaves from different regions will bring their own unique flavor profile, distinct to the environment it was produced in. This is why Mezcals come in many more variations than tequilas do. The more, the merrier.
The important part to note is that there are strict requirements and regulations to be officially classified as a Mezcal. Mezcal is required to be made from 100% agave, which leaves no room for fillers, sweeteners, or additives of any kind. In comparison, tequila only needs to be comprised of 51% agave—it likely has other stuff mixed in.
This element of purity is why people generally feel better after a night of drinking Mezcal than after a night of drinking tequila. Drinking tequila usually entails extra juice to help with taste, sweeteners to ease the harshness, and who knows what else. Mezcal, however, is intended to be enjoyed neat.
A good Mezcal needs nothing more. We respect other alcohol drinking “rules” (red wine slightly warmer, white wine slightly cooler), so let’s carry this over for Mezcal, too: neat. One more time: neat.
Mezcal offers a full, complex, and vibrant flavor experience that can definitely be enjoyed all on its own. But we won’t lie—we love a good cocktail, too...
Let’s Talk Cocktails
So let’s talk cocktails, AKA the fun stuff.
You can generally use and substitute Mezcal and tequila in similar cocktails. The biggest difference will be the strength and depth of flavor that the spirit brings to the drink. Mezcal has a strong personality—there’s no denying its distinct and unique flavor profile.
Mezcal’s flavor profile consists of earthy agave, a complex aroma, and a smooth finish. The earthy agave comes from the roasted agave hearts with delicious caramel notes and spices like ginger and cinnamon. The complex aroma consists of citrus notes like tropical fruits, pineapple, and pear; it’s the variety of these bright notes that everyone can enjoy. Lastly, Mezcal finishes with a hint of agave smoke and subtle layers of sweet fruit and baking spice.
So clearly, there’s a lot going on with Mezcal. Mezcal's strongest essence is its smokiness. With this in mind, it’s easy to daydream about cocktails that would be well complemented by this characteristic.
Let us tell you about one of our very own, the Pink Moon Paloma. Pink Moon Paloma even sounds like a whole lot of fun and happiness (and it is). Here’s how to do it:
What you’ll need:
- 2 oz Mezcal Rosaluna
- 1 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
- 0.5 oz Lime juice
- 1 pinch of Sea salt
- Garnish: Torched rosemary sprig and topped with seltzer
How to do it:
- Add all ingredients into a shaker
- Shake well (go ahead and do a dance with it, it’s happy hour somewhere)
- Pour into a glass filled with fresh ice
- Top with seltzer and a rosemary sprig for good measure (and good vibes)
BTW—this cocktail is just as pretty as it is tasty. You’ll probably want to snap a pic for the ‘gram before taking your first sip.
Ok, one more. There’s nothing like a daily drink to accompany your daily grind, so let us introduce you to your new favorite. This cocktail recipe is so easy, it’s almost too good to be true (but it is true, imagine that).
What you’ll need:
- 1.5 oz Mezcal Rosaluna
- 0.5 oz Lime juice
- 4 oz Thomas Henry Ginger Beer
- Garnish: Lime shell and candied ginger
How to do it:
- Crack open the ginger beer and slice up the lime
- Build the ingredients together in a chilled mule mug and fill with fresh ice cubes
- Garnish with the lime shell and a piece of candied ginger on a pick
We could go on and on about the magical world of Mezcal cocktails, but we’d be here all night. For now, we’ll leave you with these two recipes and happily direct you to more that you can find right here. Give some a try and let us know which ones you fancy the most.
What About Shots?
Shots are a bit controversial when it comes to Mezcal. Generally, folks might tell you to save the shots for cheap tequilas. And while we do encourage you to sip and really enjoy a Mezcal (because you can), we're all about making new traditions.
Mezcal is an incredibly complex and sophisticated spirit, which is why it's so good on its own. Rosaluna's smooth and sweet taste makes it perfect for drinking neat. Oh, and another thing (and this rule we're a bit more strict about): Mezcal is best enjoyed at room temperature. Room temperature allows the in-depth flavor profile to be experienced in all its multi-dimensional glory. Trust us, it’s glorious as hell.
Your (Alcohol-Filled) Best Friend
We’ve told you the differences between Mezcal and tequila, but we also need to mention the difference between Mezcal Rosaluna and the rest.
Rosaluna comes from the “Mezcal Capital of the World,” so that’s already a good sign it’s the best of the best. Our Rosaluna is handmade by a sister and brother duo whose family has been lovingly creating the spirit for over six generations. It’s more than our job; it’s our craft (and quite frankly, we’ve nailed it).
Here at Rosaluna, we’re 100% vertically integrated. This means we grow, farm, ferment, and distill our own agave from start to finish. Remember how the way in which an agave is grown, cared for, and harvested will affect its flavor? We treat our agaves like family.
We also use true artesanal methods, which require more attention to detail and take longer. But we do this because we know it’s well worth the wait: the extra time and care gives our Rosaluna its unique and multi-dimensional taste. Mezcal Rosaluna is made with only agave, water, and lots of love. There’s beauty in simplicity, and our spirit embodies this perfectly.
Mezcal is a big hug, a familiar face, and a night spent under the moonlight. What’s the difference between Mezcal and tequila? Mezcal is pure magic, that’s the difference.