You be the judge! Is Pechuga de Pollo (breast of the chicken) distilled by El Cortijo in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca, the best of the best? At 1,500 pesos (that’s $118 USD at today’s 12.65 exchange rate) for a 750 ml bottle in fine Mexican restaurants and far more in the U.S.A. (so I’m told by my in-the-know brother-in-law), this organic mezcal is a knock-your-socks-off fruity drink with a hint of poultry earthiness. It packs a wallop at 38% alcohol content. This is a sipping drink, not a slug it back, down-it-in-one-gulp followed by a beer chaser beverage.
How do I know? During our last evening in Puebla this week, before my return to Oaxaca and her return to Santa Cruz, California, Barbara and I went back to El Mural de los Poblanos where we love what Chef Lizett Galicia Solis does with seasonal and indigenous food (click on her name and see the makings of Pipian Verde).
After a satisfying and healthy sunflower sprouts salad mixed with walnuts, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, peeled green apples, garnished with avocado and dressed with a lime-olive oil vinaigrette;
after Mole de Olla, a beef shank stew simmered with carrots, onions, zucchini, green beans (vegetables so fresh and crunchy that they tasted just picked), epazote, and other mysterious local herbs;
after the Regalo de Quetzal, a crusty Mexican chocolate cake oozing creamy goodness accompanied by an intensely vanilla homemade ice cream that we shared, we took a deep sigh and finished off our one glass each of an Argentine malbec — a good, basic wine. (The three-course meal with wine came to 450 pesos [$36USD] per person including tip.)
Across the restaurant, the Captain Enrique Garcia was setting up for a four-flight mezcal tasting. When we asked him about what was on the tasting menu, he brought over two shot glasses filled with Pechuga de Pollo and gave us a sample.
Zowie! I think I flew back to our lovely little Hotel Real Santander, which was around the block. Barbara wanted to buy a bottle on the spot to take home to George and then thought better of it.
El Cortijo web site indicates the retail price for a bottle is 650 pesos. Of course, that’s in Mexico. If you can find it in your wine/liquor store, give your own mezcal tasting. They only distill 300 bottles a year. (Another great reason to visit Oaxaca!) Fortunately, Santiago Matatlan is 15 minutes from where I live so I had to buy two mezcal shot glasses at the last Talavera workshop I visited, just in case.