Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Cocktail queen becomes west coast’s only mezcalier

All tequilas are mezcal, not all mezcal is tequila.

Jen Queen recently became a mezcalier, a mezcal equivalent to a sommelier. She is the first person on the U.S. west coast with that title. - Image by Michael Regala
Jen Queen recently became a mezcalier, a mezcal equivalent to a sommelier. She is the first person on the U.S. west coast with that title.
Place

Saltbox

1047 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Sommeliers, professional wine experts in charge of ordering and pairing wines, are fairly common in upscale restaurants.

One San Diego restaurant pro is doing the same thing with mezcal, one of Mexico’s most important contributions to cocktail and culinary culture.

Jen Queen recently became a Master mezcalier, an honor similar to a master sommelier but applied to mezcal and its sub-beverage tequila.

She is one of only 14 in the world and the first on the west coast to earn the title. It took her three years of extensive study to become a mezcalier.

Saltbox on 5th and Broadway

“[The title] is recognized by a branch of the Mexican government, and it’s pretty intense,” she explains.

To get the mezcalier title, Queen had to pass four ascending levels and exhibit excellence in areas such as blind tasting and food pairing.

She also had to attend a day of culinary training in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, where she had to plan and execute dishes using mezcal as a primary ingredient.

Queen is putting her knowledge to work at local restaurants such as Saltbox, Puesto at the Headquarters and Monello.

Saltbox is taking advantage of Queen’s new title by planning a seven-course tasting and pairing menu on Jan. 23, according to Assistant General Manager Ray Stencel.

“Jen has made a fantastic dessert with crema de mezcal,” he says. “It will have that cool and sweet aspect of a cream with the smoky undertones enhanced by the mezcal.”

Another dish that will be served is “chapulines,” flash-fried grasshoppers coated with lime-chili powder.

“They have a nice, fatty flavor that pairs well with mezcal,” she says.

As a mezcalier, Queen considers it her duty to educate a public unaware of mezcal and how it differs from tequila.

As a mezcalier, Queen considers it her duty to educate a public unaware of mezcal and how it differs from tequila.

Basically, both mescal and tequila are distilled from the agave plant. But while all tequilas are mezcal, not all mezcal is tequila.

“Tequila originates in mezcal but it’s seen as the finest production of it,” she explains. “There are eight states in Mexico where you can produce mezcal and five where you can produce tequila.”

Queen says mezcal is a versatile spirit because affecting any of the variables, such as water source, type of agave plant, soil, and even the producer can affect the taste.

“When I was in Mexico, there was a tasting of mezcals made by a father and son. Everything else was the same except the maker,” she says. “The father’s mezcal was robust, really strong and pungent, while the son’s was more delicate and more floral.”

As part of her education process, Queen hopes to clear up misconceptions on whether good mezcal should have a worm in the bottle.

“I was taught — and this may be a marketing gimmick — that the worm was proof of [the alcoholic content],” she says. “Now we have science. I don’t need to put the worm in the bottle to prove it.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Football: a career low for Lucille Ball

A darker shade of twilight
Next Article

How they pry Marines out of downtown Oceanside

Darrius Pope cut hair 10 am to 8 pm in Pendleton barracks
Jen Queen recently became a mezcalier, a mezcal equivalent to a sommelier. She is the first person on the U.S. west coast with that title. - Image by Michael Regala
Jen Queen recently became a mezcalier, a mezcal equivalent to a sommelier. She is the first person on the U.S. west coast with that title.
Place

Saltbox

1047 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Sommeliers, professional wine experts in charge of ordering and pairing wines, are fairly common in upscale restaurants.

One San Diego restaurant pro is doing the same thing with mezcal, one of Mexico’s most important contributions to cocktail and culinary culture.

Jen Queen recently became a Master mezcalier, an honor similar to a master sommelier but applied to mezcal and its sub-beverage tequila.

She is one of only 14 in the world and the first on the west coast to earn the title. It took her three years of extensive study to become a mezcalier.

Saltbox on 5th and Broadway

“[The title] is recognized by a branch of the Mexican government, and it’s pretty intense,” she explains.

To get the mezcalier title, Queen had to pass four ascending levels and exhibit excellence in areas such as blind tasting and food pairing.

She also had to attend a day of culinary training in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, where she had to plan and execute dishes using mezcal as a primary ingredient.

Queen is putting her knowledge to work at local restaurants such as Saltbox, Puesto at the Headquarters and Monello.

Saltbox is taking advantage of Queen’s new title by planning a seven-course tasting and pairing menu on Jan. 23, according to Assistant General Manager Ray Stencel.

“Jen has made a fantastic dessert with crema de mezcal,” he says. “It will have that cool and sweet aspect of a cream with the smoky undertones enhanced by the mezcal.”

Another dish that will be served is “chapulines,” flash-fried grasshoppers coated with lime-chili powder.

“They have a nice, fatty flavor that pairs well with mezcal,” she says.

As a mezcalier, Queen considers it her duty to educate a public unaware of mezcal and how it differs from tequila.

As a mezcalier, Queen considers it her duty to educate a public unaware of mezcal and how it differs from tequila.

Basically, both mescal and tequila are distilled from the agave plant. But while all tequilas are mezcal, not all mezcal is tequila.

“Tequila originates in mezcal but it’s seen as the finest production of it,” she explains. “There are eight states in Mexico where you can produce mezcal and five where you can produce tequila.”

Queen says mezcal is a versatile spirit because affecting any of the variables, such as water source, type of agave plant, soil, and even the producer can affect the taste.

“When I was in Mexico, there was a tasting of mezcals made by a father and son. Everything else was the same except the maker,” she says. “The father’s mezcal was robust, really strong and pungent, while the son’s was more delicate and more floral.”

As part of her education process, Queen hopes to clear up misconceptions on whether good mezcal should have a worm in the bottle.

“I was taught — and this may be a marketing gimmick — that the worm was proof of [the alcoholic content],” she says. “Now we have science. I don’t need to put the worm in the bottle to prove it.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Imperial Beach, town without pretense

Sleeping ban. sandcastle stomping, immigrant shelter, breakwater, Brian Bilbray
Next Article

Football: a career low for Lucille Ball

A darker shade of twilight
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close