When American ex-pat John Rexer went to stock his bar in Guatemala, Café No Se, he quickly found that the local mezcal didn't meet his standards. So he did what any speakeasy proprietor would do: He smuggled the good stuff in from Oaxaca.

As his bar grew a following of ex-pat artists, writers and NGO workers, Rexer expanded his mezcal collection in lockstep, seeking out small-batch productions. He held blind tastings at his bar and quickly discovered that most of his patrons preferred the smoky spirit to its more widely known counterpart, tequila.

Eventually, he decided to share his findings with a larger audience and partnered with his favorite mezcalero to make the hooch official (read: legal) and bottle it for sale.

His product, Ilegal Mezcal, has finally arrived in the U.S. (in three expressions: blanco, reposado and añejo ) and has already become a bartender's favorite on both coasts.

In New York, you'll find it at bars like PDT, Mayahuel and Louis 649. For those who want to add it to the home reserves, pick up a bottle at Chelsea Wine Vault and try this vibrant cocktail from Freeman's barkeep Maxwell Britten (click here to download the recipe).

Chelsea Wine Vault 75 9th Avenue New York NY 10011 212-462-4244 PDT 113 St. Mark's Place New York NY 10009 212-614-0386 Mayahuel 304 E. 6th St. New York NY 10003 212-253-5888 Louis 649 649 E. 9th St. New York NY 10009 212-673-1190


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