Lillian Alford Patterson


The first time I really sipped mescal was at a bar here in New Orleans. I had gone with a few coworkers for a post Saturday shift dinner. We arrived late, sat at the bar and closed the place down. I was shoving my belongings back into my bag, searching for my keys to unlock my bike out front when the owner invited the four of us to stay.

            A lock in of sorts. 

            He quickly began to pull down bottles from the shelves, all mescal. He gave us detailed descriptions of the origin of each bottles before pouring us generous shots. Per his instruction I allowed the smoke liquid to rest on the groove of my tongue  The more he poured, the less I retained the stories, but I increasingly enjoyed his telling of them as his gestures grew wider and more exaggerated. ‘Smoke in here if you want,’ he said, so we lit up a few cigarettes. He asked for a drag. ‘I miss smoking.’ He poured another round, this one, a top shelf mescal that none of us had the funds to afford. It was the perfect drink to sip on. After two of those, we stumbled into the dark, muggy July night, each of us finding our respective routes homes. 

            My second encounter with mescal came two years later in the form of a back yard, a bottle or two passed around, an ill fated decision to patron a bar, and my inebriated spouse stumbling off on his own into an unfamiliar city. We were separated at some point in the night and he later told me where his meandering road home took him. Finding himself lost and alone he sat down on a curb until a woman I can only call a saint, took him under her wing saying, “Baby, it’s not safe for you to be out here alone.” That saint ferried him home safe. 

            I believe now mescal is a charm for kindness and kinship. Mescal is all good luck.