It’s no secret that alcohol and cheese are a popular pairing. Consider wine-and-cheese, beer cheese, rind-washed cheeses like Spain’s Drunken Goat, or gooey fondue spiked with liqueur or Champagne. Alcohol’s acidity not only cuts through the fatty richness of cheese, it heightens other flavors. In hot dishes like fondue and queso, it also helps the cheese melt evenly with less stringiness.
If you’ve ever been at a Mexican restaurant where the queso is lit on fire at the table, you’ve seen firsthand the spectacle of queso fundido flameado, or flaming melted cheese. A shot of booze—usually tequila—is poured on top of the queso and lit on fire to the oohs and aahs of diners. After the alcohol burns off, the queso is stirred and served. In this recipe for queso fundido borracho, or drunken melted cheese, mezcal makes an early appearance that leaves a lasting impression. Adding it to the pan with the chorizo and vegetables as they cook allows the alcohol to dissipate, leaving the agave spirit’s distinctive smoky essence behind. Queso is best enjoyed soon after the cheese melts. So spoon it into warm tortillas, scoop it up with chips, or dig in with pork rinds. Any way you eat it, good luck showing restraint.