This wonderfully snug and warm hearted bar is putting on a Mexico showcase

All tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. Not a lot of people know this, but I do now after a tutored tasting from the man from The Lost Explorer Mezcal which is made in bespoke batches in mezcal’s heartland of Oaxacan, Mexico.

Tequila is for shots, Mezcal is for sipping and the tequila name is legally assigned only to drink made from the blue Weber agave plant (agave tequilana), while mezcal can be made from over forty species of agave. In fact though 90% of mezcal is made using the agave angustifolia plant, which is called espadín, in Oaxaca

In both cases the agave piñas, or hearts, are what’s used and they are steamed in unique above-ground ovens to produce tequila,  but roasted in wood-fired, rock-lined pits to make mezcal.

And this is why mezcal has such a fine smoky flavour, while tequila is often a more industrial product, one that gets you drunk but isn’t much of a taste experience.

Mezcal is more expensive than tequila, as the plants used can take at least six to eight years to mature and yield less liquid than the blue Weber agave plant. It’s also an artisan process, often made in villages.

It is also typically made in smaller batches which again increases the price.

In the Bloomsbury Club, a wonderfully wood panelled series of rooms with a real club feel,  I tried three of The Lost Explorer’s expressions neat, before turning to the cocktails and food.

Espadin is 100% Agave made from eight year old plants, sweetly smoky with a hint of apple and pineapple and warm finish.

Moving up, Tobala is made from a wild agave and quite hard to find. The plants are usually ten years old when harvested. This mezcal is pleasantly woody with hints of cocoa and subtle vanilla and ends on a grassy note.

Finally Salmiana is from a twelve year old plant that can grow up to a massive four metres in diameter and go up as high as two metres. It’s super herby and one to be sipped slowly, not least as it costs £130 a bottle!

We really came to try the special cocktails on offer though, each made with a different mescal and they didn’t disappoint. And the food – Pan con Mexican, BBQ tomato salsa with slow roasted garlic, tequila dressed chilli, coriander and tostada crisp,  and El Pastor Aubergine-fried aubergine, aji Amarillo and plantain dressing, pico de Gallo and a soft shell taco was good too.

There’s music too. This October The Lost Sound Sessions exploring the relationship between sound and taste. Along with The Lost Explorer Mezcal, they have created a curated series of live music sessions to fit in with the Mezcal cocktails.

It’s a lovely space, hidden away just minutes from Tottenham Court Road tube and I recommend you try it out. Mezcal is making waves.