This Female-Owned Mezcaleria Will Make You Want To Drop Everything and Move to San Miguel De Allende
It’s been a long time since Mezcal, the distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave, expanded from its home state of Oaxaca and now its long-hailed traditions are shared and celebrated all over Mexico and the world.
Mezcal is becoming Mexico’s largest export, as travelers now opt for a slow sip of mezcal over a strong shot of tequila and replace their sweet margaritas with more refreshing palomas. And as mezcal grows more popular, a new wave of female mezcal owners and entrepreneurs are challenging the dated but long-held notion that women could not be a part of the mezcal industry.
During my recent visit to San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful historical town in the state of Guanajuato, I had the privilege of meeting Ana Tidball, la dueña of ‘The Room.’
Surprisingly, The Room is one of only four mezcalerías — and the only female-owned one — in this popular travel destination. It could seem easy to walk past The Room’s traditional colonial-influenced Mexican architecture and overlook the minimalist aqua blue sign with its gold-plated name on the front door. But if you did, you would be missing the extravagant beauty that hides inside this bar.
Tidball has embedded her inspirational story in every detail of her mezcalería. The captivating geometric design adorning the walls resembles a combination of a north star and a compass, a meaningful detail to commemorate Ana’s journey in finding and following her passion for ancestral mezcal.
Right before the start of the pandemic, Tidball decided to start traveling and leave her Los Angeles home of 10 years and a decade-long career in the beauty industry hoping that a change of scenery would reveal a new path for her. She took a leap of faith at almost the same exact time COVID-19 hit and halted all travel. And there she was, in her home country of Mexico, forced to postpone the remainder of her planned trips. She had no idea then that Mexico would be home to her own mezcalería in less than a year.
After consuming mezcal for the better part of 2020 and becoming curious about the popular liquid, Tidball traveled to the mountains of Oaxaca where she learned about the traditions of mezcal, and its distilling process, and developed her expertise in knowing what makes the spirit taste fruity or citrusy, smokey or earthy. She created her own Mezcal Guide capturing each influential note she tried during her journey and now she shares it with the customers at her mezcalerías to help guide their own understanding of mezcal as they sip.
What you won’t find in that guide? The unique familial traditions around Mezcal that captivated Tidball during her time in Oaxaca.
As she met the faces behind the distillate, she became more certain with every passing day that this was the path she dreamt of. She absorbed each family’s story, appreciating the century-long rituals and practices that had been passed for generations with limited use of modern technology–storytelling at its best.
After that trip, she looked at her remaining savings and decided to take the leap. She would invest it all into a mezcalería.
Tidball decided to open the mezcalería in San Miguel de Allende because there was not much of a mezcal scene and she hoped a presence in this city would bring exposure to her new favorite drink.
In the past year, she’s welcomed each patron (myself included) with the warmth and familiarity that the country of Mexico always wraps its visitors in, and in November 2022 she’ll be celebrating The Room’s first-year anniversary. The decor of the bar is just as inviting and unique as the owner, with a modern twist on traditional artwork and furniture so that visitors can also experience an Instagrammable moment true to Mexican culture beyond the drinks.
Her exclusive cocktail recipes incorporate ancient traditions like the use of medicinal herbs infused into the mezcal. Ana shares that she created her best-selling cocktail by including an Espadín — a type of agave — distilled with THC, and combined it with the customary hibiscus flower water that Mexicans enjoy on a daily basis.
Ana successfully created a space in which the traditions of a male-dominated field are still honored, but the future of the industry is seen through a different — more inclusive — lens now. The Room feels like a room in your favorite Mexican friend’s home where you are at ease to share a drink, bask in the joys of the day, and learn a little bit about mezcal while you’re sipping it.
If you’re thinking of visiting San Miguel de Allende, I encourage you to go share a mezcal with this jefa when you do!