We get asked this question a lot, as you can imagine! The answer is simply, “tiny cup”. We decided to make our version of the archetypal mezcal copita because we wanted something from which to drink this exquisite spirit that matched its specialness. The reverence we have for traditionally made agave spirits runs deep and it is with this feeling that we designed our copitas.
For Gabriel, this liquor holds particular association: the memory of his family celebrations and of Mexico itself, his home until 2004. Although we have been traveling to Mexico together for 13 years, we first traveled to Oaxaca in 2016 to celebrate our anniversary and to explore the mountains, pueblos, crafts, food, and to taste all the mezcal we could get our hands on.
A sea change moment occurred for us at In Situ, a mezcalería in the center of town owned by Sandra Ortiz Brena and Ulises Torrentera. Not only do Sandra and Ulises have an unmatched, impeccably curated selection of mezcal in their bar, both are an incredible encyclopedia of agave and mezcal history. Sandra’s explanation of the mezcals we tasted at In Situ was our entry into our years-long discovery of the beauty, tragedy, mystery, and history that is hidden within this spellbinding liquor.While in Oaxaca we were able to attend a town party in San Martin Tilcajete where we celebrated and shared mezcal and pulque with the locals. It was a tremendous experience, seeing an entire town come together and SHARE whatever they had to offer. It completely resonated with our own instincts and sensibilities to share and celebrate with our community of friends and family.
Our visit to Oaxaca taught us that each mezcal is tied directly to the place where it is made. The land the wild agave is grown in, the natural yeast that aids in fermentation, the touch of the master mezcalero/a and the energy of the community that surrounds the palenque where the mezcal is produced.
Loaded with bottles of mezcal from In Situ, a few different traditional copitas made from clay and glass, and the faintest spark of an idea, we returned to NYC. As we sipped our way through the extraordinary bottles of mezcal we began to share it and our story of Oaxaca with friends and family. We loved inviting people to tastings to talk about the different agaves, the fermentation and distilling process, and the arid landscape where these amazing agave plants grow for at least 10-25 years before being harvested.
Serving mezcal so frequently gave rise to what became an obsession: to create our own version of a copita, one that would satisfy our design aesthetic and serve as the perfect complementary vessel from which to encounter mezcal. With the design of our copita we feel we have achieved our goal of enhancing the experience of tasting such a magnificent spirit while retaining the sense of its place of origin.
Our design combines the shape of the jicara, a small hollowed out gourd, the veladora, a glass catholic candle holder, and the traditional clay copitas found in the markets of Oaxaca. Having worked extensively in the field of casting, Sabrina chose to make the copitas from porcelain clay. Porcelain has a very important quality that makes it perfect for holding mezcal. It is inert in its chemical composition, therefore, it will not affect the taste of the spirit. Simply put, it is of the earth, refined and smooth to the touch.
We believe the best way to taste mezcal is in its natural state, 45-52% abv, 1-1½ oz pour, served neat and most importantly sipped at your own pace. This allows the taster to fully enjoy the characteristics of flavor, aroma, and body in each handmade batch. As they say in Mexico,
“Mezcal is the only liquor in the world you don’t drink, you kiss it!”.
Increasingly, ancestral and traditionally made mezcals are becoming harder to find. As a community of mezcal enthusiasts, we need to help preserve and support the historical origins of this spirit. It is within this context that we celebrate the privilege of being able to enjoy these agave distillates. It is the reason we created these copitas. Each one-of-a-kind sipping cup is intended to match mezcal’s handmade, pure, and unmistakable character.
Sabrina y Gabriel
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Recently, I had the great privilege of interviewing Patrick Dacy, founder and owner of Duke’s Liquor Box in Greenpoint Brooklyn. This article is a synthesis of our conversation which I tried to keep as close to the actual audio as possible.
We touched on several topics surrounding the production and exportation of agave spirits from Mexico. This first conversation will provide a clear and informed understanding of how agave distillates are made including what information to look for on a bottle’s label.