About Time You Met: Melanie Symonds, Co-Founder of London Mezcal WeekBy Angelica Malin
Have you heard the news? A whole week celebrating Mezcal is coming to London (11th-17th September). Expect plenty of boozy fun, masterclasses and more. We caught up with the Co-Founder, Melaine Symonds, to chat Mexico, Mezcal, and what people can expect from the festival:
For anyone that isn’t aware of London Mezcal Week, can you tell us a bit about it and what brands will be involved?
LMW is a week of events across London aiming to promote and support traditionally made Mezcal brands and the communities who make them. We are really proud to say all the brands taking part are 100% traditional in their production methods, and all have strong links back to the communities where they are produced. We have a full list on our website, but we are currently working with 25 brands and will have over 50 mezcals to try in the tasting room at the festival on the 16th and 17th September.
What inspired you to launch London Mezcal Week?
All too often these kind of events charge brands a huge amount to exhibit meaning an imbalance in what the consumer sees when they buy a ticket; the bigger brands pay for a big stand and the small independent brands, if they can afford to even be there, are left on the sidelines with little visibility. I wanted to give brands a free platform to showcase their amazing products. From there it’s kind of grown to a whole week of events because we had such a positive response from the agave community here wanting to get involved.
Where does your love of Mezcal come from?
I was in Mexico travelling down the Pacific Coast in 2010 and stumbled across a then sleepy town called Puerto Escondido, if you’re a surf fan it’s the Mexican holy grail of surfing. And surfing means parties and at one such party I was introduced to some pretty bad Mezcal, I asked if there was good Mezcal and 20 minutes later we were heading into the jungle to go get some of the good stuff. After an interesting chat with a dude in nothing but his pants and machete, I was given a jerry can and told to drink! I did and it was the most delicious, amazing thing I have ever tasted! It was a wild Tobala Mezcal made by this guy in the middle of nowhere and that was it, I was in love and on the jazzy path of Mezcal forever. I spent the next 5 months in Oaxaca learning about Mezcal and its culture then I came back to London, quit my job as a TV producer and opened the UK’s first Mezcaleria under a Kebab shop in Hackney. Fast forward 5 years and here I am, still totally obsessed with mezcal and so happy it rules my life.
Where do you go in London to get your Mezcal fix?
Most good cocktail bars carry at least 1 mezcal these days so it’s easy to find somewhere. Personal favourites are: Discount Suit Company, Ray’s Bar and Magpie who do a killer Quiquiriqui Mezcal ice cream.
What are you most looking forward to about London Mezcal Week?
Seeing more people enjoy Mezcal and understanding more about the traditional process involved in making it; it’s important to educate people in a fun way so they can make a choice about what type of Mezcal they drink, just as you would when buying food. Mezcal, when its made well, is the best example of farm/field/mountain to glass in the whole spirit world so I hope we can communicate this and the need to support the industry back in Mexico to the audience.
What do you like to do in your spare time to relax?
Have a glass of Mezcal with friends and let the fun times commence.
Do you hope that London Mezcal Week will become a regular event?
Yes! I’m hoping this year will be a success and allow us to make this a regular feature in the London event calendar – I’d love to take the show on the road and host in cities all around the UK and Ireland
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate Mexican Independence Day?
My Mexican friends all tell me to forget about Cinco de Mayo, it’s MID they celebrate. I’ve been in Mexico to witness this and it’s a lot of fun. It signifies one of the most important events in Mexican history and was the start of the battle that eventually won Mexico its liberation in September 1821.