Once upon a time, mezcal had a bad rap. Not good enough to include in a margarita, it was once viewed as a cheap, shabby, rotgut cousin of tequila where shots were pounded down and fights broke out over who got to eat the worm (larvae, actually).
But in the past decade or two the spirit is enjoying a well-deserved renaissance. Gulping and quaffing is now sipping and savoring, as aficionados discern the subtle smokiness of a spirit that has been crafted for centuries. Just to confuse things a bit, all tequila, because it is agave based, is a mezcal, though mezcal is not tequila. Got that?