Spirits of the Times mescal and tequila panel

LA Times Spirits of the Times Back in July, the LA Times launched a new series of events dedicated to the art of drinking. (That's right, my ultimate vice is now considered "creative!")

For the first installation of Spirits of the Times, the focus was on tequila and mescal, which are certainly having their moment in the local cocktail culture these days. I couldn't think of anyone better to join me on panel than Oaxacan goddess Bricia Lopez of the Guelaguetza restaurant chain, and Eric Hiss, one of my favorite fine beverage/travel writers in town.

The crowd was buzzing, perhaps due to the profuse amount of Mexican-made spirits in-house at Mas Malo. Eight different exhibitors showed up to pour and preach from the church of agave. Each had their own little booth, where they showcased the spirits in their pure form, as well as in a cocktail. At the end of the day guests were given ballots to vote on their fav. (The recipe for the winning cocktail is listed below.)

Though the acoustics in the historic art deco bank building weren't quite conducive to an educational panel, the quests who could hear seemed to have fun. Some, including Michael Kirkpatrick of MEK Photo, were even daring enough to try the crispy crickets that Bricia brought to pair with her bootlegged mescal.

Check back later, as I'll be posting a video of the panel where you can actually hear what we had to say. And remember: Para todo mal, mescal. Para todo bien, tambien. Salud!

The Winning Italian Margarita 1 ¼ oz. Karma Tequila ¾ oz. triple sec ½ oz. pineapple puree ½ oz. homemade sweet and sour 1 squeeze of lemon handful of diced cucumbers 6 sage leaves

Place the diced cucumbers in the mixing glass, add sweet and sour and muddle. Pour the rest of the ingredients into the mixing glass, shake and serve in a chilled, green sugar-rimmed glass.

Created by Jacopo Falleni of Firenze Osteria, Toluca Lake