4 + Justin Lane Briggs
/ Curating a diverse mezcal portfolio
Justin stopped by to talk about his work as a spirits specialist and educator at Skurnik wines and his unique approach to working with agave distillate brands.
We discussed how industry and community are not mutually exclusive and how a diverse and robust portfolio can create the space to bring on smaller lesser known brands.
We also talked about the trend to rest agave spirits in glass and he brought a really interesting mezcal expression for us to try that included hongos!
Justin Lane Briggs grew up among the organic farming communities of rural Vermont. After moving to New York City in 2002, he delved into the restaurant and bar world of the Big Apple and has been working on cocktail & bar programs ever since. In 2011, he was one ofBeverage Media Guide's annual 10 Mixologists To Watch; his cocktails have been featured in numerous publications and books, and Justin has been a speaker, educator, team leader or production manager at wine/food/bartending/cocktail festivals from New Orleans to San Antonio and even his home state of Vermont.
In recent years, his focus has specifically been on mezcal and r(h)um spirits and education.
Justin has also done "cocktail styling" for a wide range of performances and events, from poetry festivals in Hanoi, to Ira Glass'This American Life,to Jimmy Fallon onThe Tonight Show. Justin is most recognized as Spirits Specialist and Educator for Skurnik Spirits since 2013.
In his spare time, Justin makes artwork with his partner, poet Kaitlin Rees, develops aromatic bitters for Brooklyn-based artisanal goods company Cecil & Merl, and sometimes plays music (though perhaps not very well).
1. Mezcalero Don Celso of Río Golea
2. Tahona wheel
3. The distillation stills in Rio Golea, Quiatoni (Don Celso's Palenque)
4. Agave pups
5.,6. Cultivated agave
7. Tosba Palenque in San Cristóbal Lachirioag in the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca
8. Tinas (wood fermentation tanks)
9. A Chrich in San Cristóbal Lachirioag (Edgar is its caretaker)
10. Tosba owners: Elisandro Gonzalez-Molina and Edgar Gonzalez-Ramirez
11. Copper alembic stills in the distillation area of the palenque
12. On a roof with the mountains of The Sierra Norte in the background
13. Agave farm in San Pedro Quiatoni, Oaxaca
14. Kaitlin Rees on the way to Tosba
+ All images courtesy of Justin Lane Briggs