Mezcal is more popular than ever—why that’s bad news for bats
As consumption of the drink hits record levels in the U.S., wild agave plants are dwindling—but conservationists say there's a solution.
The oldest distilled spirit in the Americas is making a comeback. In 2019, American imports of mezcal soared by more than 50 percent, surpassing even Mexico in consumption for the first time. It's too early to know the impact of 2020 on sales, but the industry is forecast to continue growing.
As demand for craft cocktails rises, so does the pressure on the agave plant, mezcal’s source, in Mexico. It’s led to an overharvesting of the agaves before they produce nectar, which in turn imperils the plant’s main pollinator, the lesser long-nosed bat.
Tiny but mighty, these one-ounce mammals fly over 750 miles each year—from their winter roosts in central Mexico to birthing caves along the U.S.-Mexico border—in