This Sunday, tequila takes a time-out at Tio's Cerveceria. To celebrate Mexico's lesser-known agave spirit, the Sydney bar is throwing a free fiesta dedicated to mezcal.
From 3pm you'll be able to taste more than 40 varieties of mezcal straight up, with five Australian distributors on deck to talk you though them. But don't expect a seller's pitch; when Tio co-owner Alex Dowd started the annual festival last year, he vowed to keep things casual.
"The problem we've always found with tastings is that they're so static and stuffy," he says. "We're just handing out glasses at the door and leaving people to taste the juice, asking questions if they have any."
They want the spirit to speak for itself - and to step out of its sister spirit's shadow. Drunk straight, mezcal warms the heart; in tropical cocktails, it adds a smoky complexity. At Tio's, the picks include the Guadalupe, where mezcal meets coconut, cane-sugar rum, and lime, and the Marita, a smoky-sweet cocktail with plum grenadine, pineapple and maraschino.
"We're just trying to tell the story of something we've fallen for," says Dowd.
The love affair continues after the tastings wrap up around 5pm, with chef Toby Wilson reopening Ghostboy Cantina on the site for the night with a mezcal-driven menu. Expect ginger and mezcal ceviche tostadas, charred pumpkin tacos with pepitas, a salty-smoky ancho mezcal salsa and more. Tecate tinnies and free popcorn will be on hand if you can't match the mezcal madness.
Mezcal mini-festival, 2 Sunday April, 3pm-5pm, Tio's Cerveceria, 4-14 Foster St, Surry Hills, NSW.