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In this groundbreaking and deeply personal book, Ron Cooper—a leading voice in the artisanal mezcal movement, and the person largely responsible for popularizing the spirit in the United States—shares everything he knows about this storied, culturally rich, and now hugely in-demand spirit, along with 40 recipes.
In 1990, artist Ron Cooper was collaborating with craftspeople in Oaxaca, Mexico, when he found mezcal—or, as he likes to say, mezcal found him. This traditional spirit was virtually unknown in the United States at the time, and Cooper founded Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal in order to import it. Finding Mezcal recounts Cooper's love affair with the spirit and the people who make it; its meteoric rise in popularity; and the delicate balance between sharing mezcal with the world and facilitating its preservation. Each chapter introduces a new mezcal, its producer, and its place of origin, while also covering mezcal production methods and the botany of the maguey (aka agave) plant, from which mezcal is distilled. Featuring 40 recipes developed for Del Maguey by chefs and bartenders from around the world, the book is copiously illustrated with photographs, as well as Cooper's artwork and that of his friend Ken Price, who illustrated Del Maguey's now-iconic labels.
About the Author
RON COOPER is a celebrated visual artist, mezcal importer, and the founder of Del Maguey Mezcal.
CHANTAL MARTINEAU is a wine, spirits, food, and travel writer whose work has appeared in Vogue, Food & Wine, Saveur, and the Atlantic, among others. She is the author of the book How the Gringos Stole Tequila.
“Ron’s work is always funny, ironic, and surprising. That Ron should have become a purveyor of mezcal is no less surprising, as he has brought his alchemy to a new level. The farming, the harvest, the process of making mezcal is another of Ron’s artistic expressions. As are the Del Maguey bottles, decorated with the brilliant, whimsical watercolors of the great artist Ken Price, a fellow dreamer and adventurer. This book allows us the singular opportunity to enter into Ron’s head and join him on this journey of the senses.”
—Anjelica Huston, actress
“I knew nothing about mezcal until Cooper introduced me to it. I was impressed by the sauce and Cooper—and now, this book.”
—Larry Bell, artist
“This lovely, conversational, and often very funny book is the next best thing to sitting in the shade of a big, old Oaxacan encino oak tree with Ron and sharing a copita (or three) of the local mezcal. I can’t think of a more pleasant way to pass the time.”
—David Wondrich, author of Imbibe!
“‘Up there, up there’s where we’ve got to go . . . . UP THERE!’ Like Walter Houston’s character in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Ron Cooper stumbled on mezcal in the mountains around Oaxaca. But the compelling story is how mezcal found Ron Cooper, and in Finding Mezcal, it unfolds like a movie. The mezcal he found in mountai palenques was seductive, but ultimately, the people who made it are the real soul of the Del Maguey story.”
—Dale DeGroff, author of The Craft of the Cocktail
“ Agave, mezcal, and all of the people behind this magical spirit needed a book as complete, profound, intimate, and passionate as this one. Está chingón—f-ing great!”
—Enrique Olvera, chef/owner of Cosme, Pujol, and Atla
"Readers will find Cooper’s work to be one of abiding love and an outstanding introduction to a unique, often overlooked spirit."