California-Grown Agave Is Making Tequila Sustainable

If your brutal hangover from last Saturday’s rager hasn’t convinced you, here’s another good reason to sip and not shoot your tequila: our long-term supply of agave—the plant used to make spirits like mezcal and tequila—could be endangered.

There are approximately 200 types of agave in the world, most of which are native to Mexico, and roughly 40 that are made into liquor. In pre-Columbian times, the Aztecs boozed it up with pulque, a viscous, fermented, mildly alcoholic drink made from agave sap. Early Mexican societies developed the distillation of agave into various forms of hard alcohol that continue to inebriate people today, such as your friends tequila and mezcal.

But according to Mexico’s National Committee for Agave Production, there won’t be enough agave to meet the needs of tequila producers in the next few years. And to make matters more complicated, concerns are growing within the industry over disappearing wild agave—a result of pillaging.