Baconfest has added another pop-up element by partnering with Lou Bank, the founder of the organization S.A.C.R.E.D. He’ll be at Baconfest’s VIP Saturday sessions, where he’ll be talking about the work his organization does and sharing some very special mezcals that can’t be purchased in the US from his private stockpile with attendees on Saturday April 6.
S.A.C.R.E.D. stands for Saving Agave for Culture, Recreation, Education, and Development. This not-for-profit organization uses heirloom agave spirits to improve the quality of life in the rural Mexican communities where those spirits are made. They help build libraries and greenhouses, replant agave, and underwrite earthquake relief. Founder Lou Bank won the Golden Spirit Award for his presentation at the 2018 Tales of the Cocktail.
S.A.C.R.E.D is a USA-based, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that helps raise money to send to these towns, to aid in the building of these libraries; to help replant the agave, to ensure the economic engine doesn't die; and to underwrite the cost to maintain and replicate the water-preservation systems these towns have established to buffer against drought. The fund-raising generally takes the form of tasting events, where participants who make a donation to one of the projects in Mexico are treated to samples of five or more of the rare agave spirits from these towns. The (relative) boom in interest in agave spirits (mezcal, raicilla, bacanora, tequila, and destilado de agave) has created an economic engine that is sparking enormous changes in the rural Mexican towns where they produce these traditional and artisanal spirits. The young adult male population had been depleted in these small towns, as they went north to make money to send home. But those same adult males are now needed in the towns to make these spirits, and to farm to feed the larger populations. And the increased income is allowing them to build libraries and stock those libraries with books — a scarce resource in rural Mexico.
The Baconfest founders love smoky flavors, whether it’s in bacon or in distilled spirits. Over the last few years, along with the rest of Chicago’s foodie community, they’ve become entranced by that most smoky of spirits – mezcal. Crafted by artisan mezcaleros in rural Mexico from the agave plant, mezcal is a uniquely fascinating beverage, each bottle reflecting the terroir of its native soil, each expression reflecting the craft and inherited heirloom knowledge of generations of master distillers.
VIP ticket-holders at both Saturday sessions will get to enjoy a vertical tasting of three spirits made by maestro mezcalero Victor Ramos in Miahuatlan, Oaxaca, Mexico. All three were made by cooking tobalaagave in a stone-lined earthen oven; milling that agave using an oxen-pulled stone wheel; fermenting it in open-air wooden barrels, and distilling it in wood-fired copper-pot stills. Lou will be sharing expressions made in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
General Admission ticket holders on Saturday will get a mezcal experience, too! He’ll be sharing tastes of an espadin expression that was distilled through Dark Matter Coffee by maestro mezcalero Eduardo Angeles in Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca.
None of these mezcals are available for purchase anywhere in the USA – Baconfest’s Saturday sessions are the only place that Chicagoans can go to sample them. To meet Lou, try these mezcals, and learn about S.A.C.R.E.D., the only way is to buy tickets for Baconfest Chicago’s Saturday Sessions on April 6.