Chances are you never really saw up-close a bottle of tequila with a worm in the bottom but i’m pretty sure you know what i’m talking about. But have you ever wondered why? What’s the deal with worms and tequilas?
It’s time to find out, but before we get into it, let’s just clarify that the worm we’re all thinking of belongs in a bottle of mezcal and not tequila – mezcal is tequila’s smokier cousin (tequila is made from blue agave whilst the smoked mezcal can be made from any variety of succulents).
Anyway, here’s how it goes. (the article continues after the ad)
Even though we can’t be 100% sure, most drink historians believe that the whole worm in a bottle of mezcal myth most probably started as marketing ploy back in the 1950s. You see, at the time, tequila was flooding the US market and mezcal companies were desperately trying to differentiate themselves. To do so, they added a worm in the bottom of the bottle. It didn’t matter that Mexicans never had mezcal with a worm; in bottles sold in the US a moth called gusano de maguey was added. But how did they come up with this?
Because some brands of mezcal were adding the heart of the plant as a way to enhance the flavor of the drink (don’t forget that drinks weren’t always as classy as they are today), it made sense to have the worm in the bottle since this specific moth could be sometimes found in the heart.
Nowadays you don’t see a lot of bottles with worms and that is partially due to the whole cocktail renaissance we witness during the last decade. That being said, it’s not at all impossible you’ll find a worm in a mezcal bottle. Just avoid it – the good stuff is entirely worm-free.