Culture | November 21, 2013 9:00 am

Liquor Upper

By The Editors

Americans, a mighty-livered people, have lately embraced tequila. That was last year.

This year, the spirit bartenders obsess over is mezcal — tequila’s smoky papi and a damn fine gift this holiday season.

Specifically, we recommend giving a bottle of Mezcal El Silencio: just-launched, damn tasty and available only in Los Angeles (list of locations).

Mezcal, you can tell your giftee, is a generic term for any spirit distilled from the agave plant.

The more familiar tequila is simply a type of mezcal — if the agave is of the species tequilana and grown in Jalisco or one of four neighboring states, then the distilled spirit takes the name “tequila.”

But agave grows all across Mexico. And like Scotch in Scotland, there are many distinctive varieties of mezcal.

The blend El Silencio uses — espadin, tobasiche and mexicano — all sprout high in the San Balthazar hills, where the altitude sweetens them.

The elegant bottle looks urbane, with the alebrije (mythical rabbit) tattooed on its back and a label that alludes to the dreamy club in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive

Most folks enjoy mezcal neat. But if the occasion calls for a mixed drink, you can’t go wrong with Petty Cash’s Mezcal Old Fashioned. You can find a step-by-step tutorial with Julian Cox – one of LA’s star mixologists – on our Facebook page.