Agaves — both wild and farmed — that are distilled into mezcal are a familiar sight on roadsides across Oaxaca. Yet in the perfect beach town that is Puerto Escondido, mezcal takes a relative backseat compared other parts of the state. Still, skipping Oaxaca’s most famous spirit on a visit would be like avoiding bourbon in Kentucky just because you’re not in Lexington or Louisville. In Puerto Escondido, you just need a few local recommendations to guide you to the best in town.
Carlos Sada was born in Mexico City and spent years as a corporate lawyer for bars and restaurants in Mexico. He founded the first online distribution store for mezcal and agave spirits, and for the past decade has he worked with various mezcal brands. Currently Sada is the head of operations for Producer Mezcal.
Sada has lived in Puerto Escondido with his wife for the past two years, though he’s been traveling to the region for the past two-plus decades. His time here has led to an expertise of the best places to find good mezcal in this beach town that’s more famous for parties and surfing than for great mezcal spots.
“It really depends on the area where you’re drinking in Puerto,” Sada says, adding that “there are some great bars with good mezcals, and it is rare that you will find mezcals that are not from the state of Oaxaca. In other tourist destinations, you usually can find mezcals from all over the country.”
Bars and restaurants in Puerto Escondido, as is the case across Oaxaca, often have a house mezcal. This option is usually 40 percent ABV (low for a mezcal compared to traditional offerings) and is typically made with espadin, which is the easiest commercially grown agave used for mezcal. However, some places will have a wider selection of mezcals made with agaves like San Martin (also called Karwinskii), tobala, tepeztate, arroqueño, and multi-agave blends called ensambles, among others.
When in Oaxaca, try what you can, because it can be hard to find non-espadin mezcals in many parts of the United States. San Martin is a favorite of Sada’s at the moment for its clean, crisp, and green flavor. The Producer’s master distiller Juan Pacheco makes one in the town of Ejutla, as well as a small-batch arroqueño, which is a rare, wild-grown agave that reaches at least 17 years of age before it’s harvested. Find the right place to drink, and you can find these styles and more.
From the best Puerto Escondido beaches to enjoy some mezcal to the best bars and restaurants, here’s a local’s guide to where to drink mezcal in Puerto Escondido.
Matador Network: What’s your favorite Puerto Escondido beach for kicking back with some mezcal and why?
Carlos Sada: Bacocho! It’s a certified clean beach and it offers the best sunsets.
What’s your favorite bar in Puerto Escondido for when you’re looking for a reliably good mezcal selection?
Mombasa bar. Its more of a party bar, but their selection is good and they have great cocktails. And the live music and dj’s make it fun to drink there.
What’s your favorite Puerto Escondido restaurant with a good mezcal selection?
Omara Restaurant. Besides owning it, I hand-selected the mezcals, and you can pick between different types of flights and pair them with a nice set of oysters. I live in Rinconada, which is a residential area of Puerto Escondido with a much more relaxed atmosphere.
More Rinconada recommendations from Sada:
- Restaurante el Nene for casual food and mezcal
- Amloraduz for high-end Oaxacan cuisine and great mezcal
What areas of Puerto Escondido are the best for bar hopping if you’re looking to drink mezcal?
What’s the best way to drink mezcal in Puerto Escondido?
Neat is always the first option, but since there are many Americans and Europeans coming in looking for cocktails, some bars have nice offers.
Are there any Puerto Escondido hotels that you recommend that have a good connection to mezcal?
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Casona Sfroza is a beautiful hotel that has a great selection of mezcals. Hotel el Escondido is also beautiful and actually has its own mezcaleria called Cobarde, which is worth checking out even though it’s 30 minutes away from Puerto Escondido by car.