We walked in from the cold. It was a blustery night in New York City walking up 47th street. We were getting tired, our feet sore, and a drink was needed! Añejo, a Mexican restaurant’s welcoming glow drew us in. As we sat down at the bar and ordered a Mezcal flight with some pork tacos, Angel (our bartender) introduced himself. The evening went by quickly while he explained the processes of Mezcal and the community that thrives on its production.
Here is Angel’s story:
Where are you from? Tell me a little about your upbringing.
I was born and raised in the Mexico states of Puebla & Oaxaca. The first alcohol drink that I encounter was local home made Aguardiente (cane sugar rum), the second was Pulque (local fermented beer made from a 10-12 year old Agaves known as “Agaves Pulqueros”. As soon as I could travel by myself, I embarked on exploring and trying mezcal. Im a mezcal lover, that is why I’m behind the bar in New York. I finished my high school and got to enjoy the beautiful city of NY. I also fell in love with Denver and visited so many times, but I decided to stay put in Brooklyn.
What are you passionate about?
Life, mezcal, bartending, family. I love meeting people and sharing stories. I believe everyone you meet becomes part of the history of your life.
What brought you to New York City?
My dream was to become a teacher in elementary school. High school did not matter. I couldn’t do it, so I guess my destiny was to live my life here in New York.
What do you love about New York City (or the community you’re apart of in NYC)?
I chose to live in NY because of the diversity of cultures. This is a city that makes you be proud of who you are. It embraces you with open arms, makes you a fighter. It encourages you to become better, to cry, laugh, live, and be a part of this amazing place.
What do you NOT like about New York City (or the community you’re apart of in NYC)?
Honestly I don’t know, all I know is that I help out any way I can.
What processes do you think should be taken to improve the aspects about your community which you don’t like?
I don’t get in to politics. The only thing that bothers me is the constant littering on the streets.
What Charity do you think people should contribute to?
Although Angel didn’t answer this question, while speaking with him at the bar, he handed us a bottle of Rezpiral. Rezpiral is a spirits label, but also a project that promotes land conversation and management, supporting seeding practices, re-forestation, promotes land stewardship and advocacy for communal and local land control, promotes bio-diversity and preservation/propagation of endemic agave species, and supports family-run and owned independent production. We highly suggest looking into their spirits and exploring their website.
Is there anything in your community which you’d like to promote? Anything you want more people to know about?
Again, Angel didn’t respond to this question, but in person he gave us an instagram link to a local tour guide in Oaxaca, Mexico. He will take you around local communities, teach you how to cook with the locals and of course drink Mezcal! Check out this tour guide on instagram @oaxacking or online if you’re in the Oaxaca region.
What would you want tourists to know if they’re coming to NYC?
New York City is a city that never sleeps. It is an expensive place to live, but it is beautiful. Look for happy hours, don’t tell people where you are staying, don’t leave your belongings unattended, always dine on small local restaurants, be kind to the restaurant industry staff (tip 18% to 20% of your bill).
How can tourists be respectful and ethical while in NYC?
Have fun! Use MTA transportation. Don’t mind asking New Yorkers for help, we always help. Bartenders know a lot places and people, so always keep them in mind if you’re looking for New York City advice.