This is Monica Cortes, Global Brand Ambassador for Casa Cortes Mezcal which include Agave de Cortes, Nuestra Soledad and El Jolgorio.
Monica was raised in Los Angeles from Mexican parents both from Matatlán, where Monica’s family has been making mezcal since 1840. After growing up in California, she moved to Boston for school where she majored in Business and Finance. Upon graduating, she was told about a position within her family business which involved moving to Oaxaca.
It was a no brainer for her and she jumped on straight away. What was supposed to be a two years adventure is still going on strong after six.
At first, she was doing a lot of different jobs because the company didn’t really have a person for every specific area. It allowed her to really get into the nit and grit of what the company is, to understand how it’s supposed to be run and what makes it function well, as well as rebuilding the connections with the mezcaleros themselves and the families. She reminds us that “it’s different when you are from Oaxaca and you have to build connections with these people. It’s like you have to be there for them as well, that you grow not only for yourself but also for the families that are out there and that are behind the company. It’s a very, very big commitment.”
Overall, if Monica was already in love with Oaxaca from her many summers spent in Matatlán with her grand-parents as a kid, she keeps falling in love with the place, the locals, her own history as well as the people that are coming in and out and exploring. It all forms a unique community that she’s very grateful to be part of.
For a cocktail recipe made by Daphnee Vary Deshaies using El Jolgorio mezcal, it's this way.
- What do you love most about Oaxaca city?
« I've been to many other cities, even in Mexico, and I would say that it doesn't feel like you are part of the community or that your meeting locals were as here in Oaxaca, and I hope this is something that continues to be in the years coming from now, I still feel like I'm being where I'm interacting with the local community. I'm still experiencing parts of that culture that has been here for so many generations and I feel like part of that history still feels present today. And also, the influx of people that are new keeps it interesting, keeps it kind of evolving and becoming something. »
- Coming here, it’s very clear that mezcal is something deeply rooted in every day’s life for the people that make it outside the city. But how do the locals from the city interact with it?
“It's easy for them to go to these different towns and drink Mezcal straight from the Mezcaleros themselves and learning to appreciate their own culture and their own people in this city. They build friendships with these people and then I think it's more about getting invited and going over there and experiencing it for themselves.”
- One bottle to bring on a desert island?
“I love all of them, I really do. I think each one has a special appeal for certain occasions. But if I had to choose one, I'll always mention it because It was my first love when I got back into the mezcal world and it’s El Jolgorio Arroqueño from Tío Pedro. It’s the one that I fell in love with when I came back and started to fall in love with my own history and my own culture. For some reasons, I just made a connection with that mezcal and when I met the mezcalero himself it was like wow, this is amazing and truly special. Love at first sight.”