Mezcal is a spirit that demands respect and appreciation. The way we consume mezcal can significantly impact our experience of its complex flavors and aromas. This is where mezcal glasses come into play. They are not just vessels for holding the spirit they are tools designed to enhance the sensory experience of drinking mezcal.
A quick PSA: Mezcal is NOT meant to be consumed as a shot. As people in Oaxaca will tell you: “Mezcal is the only spirit you don’t drink, you kiss it.” So all of the cups mentioned below are meant to enhance the sipping experience – and are not shot glasses.
In this article, we’ll explore the three main types of mezcal glasses: the Copita, Vaso Veladora, and Jicara, and delve into their characteristics, benefits, and history. And we also give you our favorite examples you can find online.
The traditional mezcal copita, translating to “little cup,” is a shallow cup typically made from clay, but you’ll also find beautiful glass copitas out there. It resembles a small, shallow bowl, and its wide mouth allows the drinker to get up close and personal with the mezcal, taking in the bright, smoky fragrance.
The wide mouth of the Copita enhances the sensual experience of drinking mezcal. It allows the aromatic compounds of the spirit to reach your nose, enhancing the perception of its complex flavors. Furthermore, copitas are often handmade and painted by hand, which also makes them a beautiful artisan design element of your home bar.
The Copita has been a traditional vessel for sipping mezcal for many years. Its design is rooted in the belief that mezcal should be savored slowly, allowing the drinker to fully appreciate its complex flavors and aromas.
The Vaso Veladora is another traditional mezcal glass. In Mexico, you’ll encounter these glasses a lot since they are the most common type of serving mezcal.
The Vaso Veladora’s thick glass is great for an over-eager round of cheers. The glass allows the drinker to appreciate the visual aspects of their mezcal. It also allows you to shout “Hasta ver la cruz!”, (“till you see the cross!), meaning the cross at the bottom of the glass, which you see once you drank all of the mezcal in it.
The history of the Vaso Veladora is tied to the Roman Catholic Church. It was initially manufactured by the Church as a candle holder for prayer. At some point people found out that it also makes for a pretty good cup for mezcal. And that was that.
This bowl-shaped cup is made from the gourd of the Crescentia tree. The fruit is cut in half, hollowed out, and left to dry. They are often then hand-painted for decoration.
Like the Copita, the Jicara has a wide mouth, allowing the drinker to soak up the nose bouquet that a good mezcal offers. Its natural material adds an earthy touch to the mezcal drinking experience.
The Jicara, a traditional serving vessel for mezcal, has a history that spans centuries. It is made from the gourd of the Crescentia tree, which is cut in half, hollowed out, and left to dry. This practice dates back to pre-Hispanic times and was used by indigenous cultures in Mexico for various purposes, including as a vessel for drinking. Over time, the Jicara found its place in the world of mezcal, where its natural, earthy material complemented the complex flavors of the spirit.
So What Mezcal Glasses Should I Buy?
If you’re a mezcal lover who enjoys savoring the complex flavors and aromas of the spirit, the Copita or Jicara would be a great choice. Their wide mouths enhance the olfactory experience of drinking mezcal. On top of that, they look really cool! If you’re looking for an everyday sturdy and durable glass that can withstand a hearty toast, the Vaso Veladora is the way to go.
The type of mezcal glass you choose can significantly enhance your mezcal drinking experience. Whether it’s the Copita, Vaso Veladora, or Jicara, each glass offers a unique way to appreciate the complex flavors and aromas of the agave spirit we all love. So, the next time you pour yourself a mezcal, remember, it’s not just about what’s in the glass; it’s also about the glass itself.
Are There Special Mezcal Cocktail Glasses?
When it comes to mezcal cocktails, there are no specific glasses that are universally used. Instead, bartenders choose whatever complements the specific cocktail they are creating best. This could range from a highball glass for a long, refreshing mezcal cocktail, a rocks glass for a smoky mezcal Old Fashioned, or even a margarita glass for a mezcal-based twist on the classic margarita (also called mezcalita). The choice of glassware is guided by the characteristics of the cocktail, including its ingredients, presentation, and the drinking experience it aims to provide.
Mezcal Glasses vs. Tequila Glasses – What’s the Difference?
Tequila is typically served in a small, narrow shot glass, also known as a “caballito”. This design is meant to emphasize the spirit’s smoothness and facilitate quick consumption, often in a single gulp. The narrow opening of the shot glass limits the amount of oxygen that comes into contact with the tequila, which can help to preserve its flavor.
As we discussed, mezcal glasses on the other hand are designed to enhance the complex flavors and aromas of the spirit. Most mezcal glasses feature a wide mouth, which allows the aromatic compounds of the mezcal to reach your nose, enhancing the perception of its flavors. This design encourages slow sipping, allowing the drinker to fully appreciate the spirit’s complexity.