Every July in the historic center of Oaxaca City, the Feria Internacional del Mezcal takes over El Llano Park for a week-long mezcal celebration. This past summer, Mezcal Carreño US founders Abel Arriaga and Ivan Carreño traveled to the central Mexican city to experience the fair first-hand.
The Feria Internacional del Mezcal (International Mezcal Fair) is a cheap thrill - no really, tickets are only $3 (US dollars) and give you access to virtually limitless mezcal tastings, delicious Mexican fare and live music entertainment.
At first, the Feria seemed to have a relaxed atmosphere with patrons gathered around picnic tables enjoying tacos, tortas and tlayudas with home-made salsas and fresh toppings. The excitement picked up in the heart of the festival - the main drag comprised of rows and rows of vendors each representing a different mezcal brand. Selections ranged from uncertified sweet crema brands to certified artisanal mezcals, some served as cocktails mixed with local fruits and juices and others straight up.
Part of our reconnaissance mission was not only to experience the wide variety of mezcals, but to see how each brand used different marketing tactics and sales techniques. With more than 70 booths vying for attention, the vendor aisles felt more like a bazaar bustling with merchants, maestros and models hoping to catch the eye of their next potential customer.
From women dressed in colorful folklorico skirts pushing free shots in front of our faces to wizened farmers waxing eloquent about their terroir, the soul of mezcal filled our senses, excited our palates…and gave us a hearty buzz.
One of the best parts of doing our “industry research” in Mexico was that, unlike similar beer or cocktail festivals in the states, we could actually purchase a bottle or two or five directly from the vendors. (For more research purposes, of course!)
Overall, the Feria Internacional del Mezcal is great experience for both seasoned and novice mezcal drinkers, and an amazing way to really immerse oneself in spirit of Oaxaca. There is so much opportunity to explore the different expressions mezcal has to offer to find your favorite. (Well, second favorite after Mezcal Carreño, of course!)