Xicaru Pechuga: Clearly Not The Budweiser of Mezcals

Typically designated for special occasions, pechuga is a type of mezcal that is distilled with a raw 
chicken hanging above the mash, though Xicaru's process calls for adding the chickens right into the distillate. During the distillation process, the liquid mixes with the proteins to extract and impart even more complexity of flavors. But makers of this special kind of mezcal don't necessarily adhere to the one chicken rule, or chicken at all for that matter. With protein being the centerpiece (and often scarce in the hardscrabble Oaxacan hills,) sometimes rabbits, turkey, or other sources are used depending on availability. 

This method of concoction might seem straight out of a witch doctor's cook book, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that it delivers toils and boils, and a newt's tail's worth of mystery. Weird, for sure, but also incredibly complex and beguiling thanks in part to the addition of mole to the recipe. What else can you drink that has strong overtones of savory sweat and saline bone stock, yet keep you returning for another peek behind the curtain? Left to enjoy in silence, the protein is plenty evident. Layers of holiday dinner table flavors unfold languidly: brined turkey, fricasseed greens, braised cactus, and even a bit of spicy chocolate. A kaleidoscope on peyote. And somehow very pleasing. $60 (Sample) 92 Points.