Handcrafted in small-batches, Ilegal Mezcal has a beautifully balanced profile, with a mouth full of agave and a hint of smoke. Our Joven, Reposado, and Añejo are all made with sustainable Espadín agave. A complex, yet smooth and approachable mezcal, for those who enjoy sipping liquors like bourbon, tequila, or craft gin.
While our mezcal is perfect neat, it makes for exceptional mezcal cocktails – originals and reimagined classics alike. Check out our signature mezcal cocktail recipes, and try Ilegal as the base spirit in a Mezcal Margarita, a Mezcal Mule, or your favorite cocktail.
Hidden in the south of Mexico lies a small region containing a community which follows pre-columbian Zapotecan customs. Juchitán is not only the last matriarchy in Mexico but also the only place in the country that acknowledges a third gender. Our collaboration revolves around them; the Muxes.
The Muxes are what American society would classify as transgender. Male born members of the Zapotecan culture that take on the roles of women. The inspiration for this project is the deep involvement of the Muxes’ role in their community. In an age of increasing connectivity and outside influences, the Muxes and the ancient Zapotecan traditions are being preserved and protected by the people and government of Oaxaca, from the heteronormativity that most cultures impose.
Immersing ourselves in their culture and integrating with the members of this region, we captured their truthful spirit, transforming it into visual statements for our audience to feel and experience. Through a combination of photography and mixed media, we to show our viewers how this society that is run with respect and acceptance is more beneficial than harmful.
We are both queer artists with a mutual admiration for each others artistic styles it was clear to us the necessity to create something beautiful, reflecting the special affinity and respect we have for the sociocultural importance of this group and its members. We hope our viewers feel moved by the evocative and thoughtful visual exploration we present.
Lolita Matsui and Lindsey Byrnes
“People are looking for quality products with authentic stories and transparency in brand values,” says Kaylan Rexer, the chief marketing officer at Ilegal Mezcal. “You don’t get a more hand-crafted, quality product than artisanal mezcal.”
As 2021 progresses, Rexer predicts a bright future for the mezcal category. “We see consumer interest in mezcal and in premium agave spirits continuing to grow in the coming years,” she says. “We are forecasting growth not just in our major markets but across the country. Mezcal will be a staple on every cocktail menu and off-premise retail shelf.”
Part of this will be integrating the spirit into classic, mezcal-friendly cocktails like the margarita and Paloma. To help propel the trend and encourage at-home engagement with the spirit, Ilegal recently introduced margarita kits for retail and e-commerce sales, and launched a direct-to-consumer website.
Brian Cox, Dewar’s VP of Marketing: “Ilegal Smooth is the first of its kind in terms of a mezcal finished blended Scotch whisky, and we wanted to use that moment to reflect the category’s progressive, new face while also inviting new whisky appreciators to discover this partnership.
It also showcased the commonalities between the founders of Ilegal Mezcal and Dewar’s Scotch whisky: having this passion for creating something new on an ambitious scale while delivering the very best ultra-premium smooth spirit. And Ilegal Mezcal is unique and special amongst Mezcals – a great product and wonderful brand too.”
“Oaxaca is known for mezcal—but it’s also known for chocolate, and they play wonderfully together. Hot chocolate is so comforting in the colder months, especially this holiday season when socially distanced gatherings are outside. Spicing it up with mezcal gives it a slight peppery and earthy element, which balances the richness and subtle sweetness of Organic Mixology’s dark chocolate and sea salt liqueur. Mr. Black’s single-origin coffee liqueur adds a little bitterness and a caffeine kick, while the orange bitters offers a dash of citrus to round out the cocktail. Twenty-twenty has been a rough year and I think everyone could use a hug.” —Claire Mallett, bartender at Catch One, Los Angeles
“This is a fun twist on classic michelada—with a touch yuzu and black pepper, it gives the drink a nice citrus and smoky note. It’s easy to make and also very easy to drink.” — GN Chan, founder at Double Chicken Please, New York City
Follow the link to see these recipes and more!
When Herminio Torres, a senior marketing manager for Ilegal Mezcal, heard that staff at the Bronx’s Lincoln Medical Center was surviving 20-hour shifts on peanut butter and jelly, he teamed up with his brother Alejandro, owner of Brooklyn’s El Gallo Taqueria, and delivered burritos to the medics. Thus was born HospUnited. In three months, Torres dropped off 25,000 meals (mostly donated by restaurants) to workers at seven New York medical facilities. Ilegal Mezcal helped fund and market the effort as well.
In June, with the ebb of New York City’s coronavirus curve, Torres morphed HospUnited into a new organization, Humans4, partnering with the non-profit Mixteca Organization to feed Brooklyn’s undocumented Latinx population. It’s work informed by his own background. “I’m a first-generation Mexican-American. My parents immigrated here in the late 1980s. We knew what struggle was like,” says Torres. “I have a job. I am not struggling, and I feel a moral obligation to do something.”
Distilled by fourth-generation mezcaleros in the state of Oaxaca, Ilegal Mezcal is all about sustainability and producing 100% natural mezcal. Ilegal Mezcal produces in small batches, hand-corking and hand-labeling each bottle.
Their Joven product is un-aged and full bodied with light smoke and is flexible enough for cocktails, but has enough personality to be sipped on its own. You’ll find hints of green apple, fresh citrus, eucalyptus, and red chiltepe peppers.
“A beautiful introduction mezcal, Ilegal Mezcal Joven is wonderful in cocktails,” said Freddie Sarkis, chief cocktail officer at Liquor Lab in New York City. “It’s lighter on smoke than others, but not absent from it. The company practices a lot of advocacy with a long list of nonprofits and NGOs in the realm of LGBTQ, environmental conservation, immigration, and others.
“Our mezcal is not overpowering,” explains John Rexer, founder of Ilegal, the mezcal brand responsible for the collaboration. “The full flavor of the agave comes through as a result of how we roast and shave it after we pick it out of the oven. The absence of burnt agave or anything that’s overly smoked or caramelized allows the real agave flavor to come through, and when you marry that with a beautiful Scotch you get something that is extraordinary.”
For this project, Rexer says he emptied out an entire cave of casks, sending 400 barrels that formerly held Ilegal Mezcal Reposado and Anejo to the heart of the Scottish highlands. On the opposite end of the pond, Stephanie Macleod received them with a combination of excitement and curiosity. The master blender for Dewar’s had never used mezcal casks before. She had to nose every barrel individually before any of the scotch could even enter them, to make sure that nothing was compromised on the lengthy journey from Mexico.
Ilegal has announced that they have hired and promoted women as the COO, CMO, VP of trade marketing and trade marketing manager, all working hard to maintain the brand’s position as one of the leading small-batch artisanal mezcals on the market. Members Michelle Ivey, Kaylan Rexer, Trish Mannion and Kelsey Grandi, respectively, now make up over half of the executive leadership board.
Ilegal is one of the leading, small batch artisanal mezcals on the US market. It is made from 100 percent espadin agave and comes in three representations: Joven, Reposado Anejo. Ilegal was created in 2004 out of founder John Rexer’s bar, Café No Sé in Antigua. While its roots are in Guatemala, Ilegal is produced in Oaxaca, Mexico with headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
As the brand director behind the politically active and socially conscious Mezcal brand, Ilegal Mezcal, Kaylan Rexer is responsible for starting movements. From creating the “Donald Eres Un Pendejo” campaign in protest of U.S. president Donald Trump to throwing benefit concerts for Planned Parenthood, Rexer has proven that she’s a force to be reckoned with not only in the alcohol business, but also in her community.
So, it makes sense that her favorite food would also have a reputation for supplying a kick. The one food Rexer could never live without? Chilis (and Mezcal, of course).