At the bottom of some mezcal bottles, you may find a worm (gusano in Spanish). One of the urban legends is that if eaten, the worm may make you hallucinate, act like an aphrodisiac, or boost your vitality. We’re sorry to be a party pooper, but consuming the worm won’t do anything other than make you a little drunker perhaps.
You may notice that it’s only the low-end mezcal bottles that still have the worm and it’s for a good reason. The worm in the mezcal bottle is an old myth born out of misinformation of a marketing campaign back in 1940’s and 50’s.
Mezcal marketers wanted to penetrate the US and other export markets and were looking for ways to differentiate mezcal from tequila. The worm in the bottle is nothing but a marketing trick! Don’t fall for it!
The worm, or gusano de maguey, is in fact a caterpillar that lives and feeds on agave plants and is often cultivated for food. It’s quite delicious and popular in Mexican cuisine. Chefs often use gusano de maguey to add flavor to mole, in tacos or guacamole.
The traditional mezcal does not come with the worm. In fact the worm may affect the flavour composition of mezcal. However, we do recommend to enjoy sal de gusano on a rim of your mezcal cocktail or on a slice of orange next time you enjoy your mezcal.