Founded on the belief that a positive life elevates consciousness and the spirit – we are keeping the spirit of Mexico and Mexican history alive this Cinco de Mayo and introducing you to the coolest mezcal on the market. Owned and operated by two women – originally artists – GEM&BOLT ties together the beauty of Mexican mythology and cultural tradition into one sip-not-shoot liquid spirit.
Mezcal, known for its smokey flavors is often confused with tequila. But there’s so much more to this drink that makes it unique and difficult to make.
We spoke with GEM&BOLT founders – the #MezcalMamas – Elliott and Adrina, about what sets mezcal apart from other spirits on the market and how their art histories inspired a modern day beverage company that still pays its respect to its origins in everything from how its made, down to the name.
Tell us about GEM&BOLT! You both seem to have deep roots in the art world. How did you find yourselves in the spirit-making business?
Yes, GEM&BOLT has had many incarnations – first we called ourselves GEM&BOLT as an artist duo when we were working collaboratively in the art world. Eventually, we opened our own speakeasy/art-space called GEM&BOLT where we threw wild out-of-the-box art events and served up home-brewed botanical Mezcal cocktails. We both fell head-over-heels for Mezcal and eventually migrated our speakeasy to Oaxaca, where we offered our artful celebrations to the local community of friends we’d met there. It’s been a very natural and organic progression.
What is Mezcal? Is it different from your average tequila? If so, how?
Yes, they’re absolutely different. The biggest difference is that Mezcal must follow extremely stringent regulations under denomination of origin – this includes being made with 100% pure agave and small batch artisanal production methods like earth-pit roasting and milling by traditional tehona stone.
By contrast, Tequila is often produced in massive industrial volumes, is only required to be 51% agave-based, is unroasted and milled green, usually by machine. All of these details come through the final product in a very notable way. With Mezcal you are guaranteed a far cleaner, more traditional and nuanced liquid.
There’s an ancient history tied to mezcal and agave – can you talk about how that inspired you both when creating GEM&BOLT?
Yes! The most shocking and exciting part of our story was when, after existing as GEM&BOLT for 2+ years, we discovered the origin myth of Mezcal. The myth goes that hundreds of years ago in prehispanic Mexico a lightning bolt struck an agave, roasting and fermenting the sugars inside and eventually evolving into what is now known as Mezcal. You know when you make mezcal, you remove the leaves or “Pencas” leaving the heart to look remarkably like a gem. We were astounded! The synchronicity of our name and the origin myth of Mezcal was the catalyst that finally inspired us to launch our own brand.
Can you tell us a little about how your mezcal is made? There’s an ingredient called Damiana in there – what is that?
GEM&BOLT is a small batch, artisanal Mezcal handcrafted by fourth generation Maestro Mezcaleros in Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s produced by traditional methods with no artificial yeasts or chemicals but yes, it has a special ingredient! GEM&BOLT is distilled with a native Mexican superherb called Damiana giving it a smooth profile with light smoke and subtle botanical notes. Damiana, was long-revered by the Maya, Aztec and Zapotec for its myriad mood-elevating properties, and has historically been used as an herbal infusion in many mezcal-producing states.
GEM&BOLT is great for sipping and savoring, but it also pairs deliciously in cocktails. It’s both dynamic and elegant, appealing to the discerning and novice mezcal drinker alike. This is the highest indication of success in my mind.
What’s a fun fact about mezcal that you think people should know?
It’s pollinated by bats at night! Also, I love to teach people that historically, herbal mezcal infusions are as old as Mezcal itself. Any household or local bar in Oaxaca will have a handful of Mezcal bottles filled with various aromatic and medicinal herbs. It’s a beautiful tradition we’re happy to reinforce by bringing the first-ever damiana-infused Mezcal to the market.
What’s it like being women in the mezcal business? Any advice for women looking to make moves in other male dominated industries?
We’ve found that if we stay true to our vision, reception is always there, in spite of hurdles one might expect. The best advice I could offer is to always remain strong but also buoyant. The point is not to take on a male-role in a male-dominated industry, but rather to bring a new perspective to the table. If your vision is clear, people want to hear it.
Where can people purchase Gem & Bolt?
We currently sell in Oaxaca and Tulum in Mexico. In the US, people can find us throughout NY, CA, Texas, NJ, and CO. We’re also now available in London, UK.
You can find sales locations online – HERE.
Anything else you want to let people know about when it comes to learning more about mezcal?
Don’t judge it on first-taste. Let the first sip acquaint your mouth with the liquid and then your palette will be ready to taste the nuances on second sip. Savor and sip. Mezcal is made by hand and should be enjoyed slowly. Take time to get to know your liquid.
Check out this awesome video on the history of mezcal and the spirit behind GEM&BOLT…