About Ivan Vasquez

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Santa Catarina Albarradas

Maestro: Alberto Martínez

Cinco Sentidos 


Ivan Vasquez is a chef and owner of the Oaxacan restaurant and bar Madre, which is famous for its Oaxacan cuisines and the various types of mezcals. Madre has locations in Fairfax, Palms and Torrance districts in Los Angeles. With an impressive collection of over 400 varieties of mezcals, Madre has become one of the leading mezcal bars in Los Angeles.

As a teenager, Ivan Vasquez moved to USA in 1995 from his hometown Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico. He worked in the Los Angeles restaurant scene for over a decade and gained a lot of experience in the industry. Vasques was an employee at one of Baja Fresh’s outposts for about 15 years and learnt a lot about running a restaurant. He rose to the rank of regional manager at Baja Fresh and gained insights into the details of restaurant operations, including handling finances and supplies.

He later lost interest in the corporate world after noticing how bad decisions and poor management destroyed a brand he loved. Ivan Vasquez then decided to venture out and start his restaurant. He then bought a 30-year-old Mexican restaurant in the Palms and offered a variety of Oaxacan cuisines like Memela and Molotes. He also included dishes like lamb barbacoa and his Mole Palenquero on the menu. The Mole Palenquero is Vasquez’s unique creation which features a source made from agave fruits and the remains from the distillation of Pechuga mezcal.

When Vasquez started his restaurant Madre, many people showed interest in Mezcal and tequila. Mezcal is an alcoholic drink made from agaves, a plant commonly grown in Mexico. Oaxaca produces over 70% of Mezcal and exports it to national and international markets. The fermentation process involved in making Mezcal distinguishes it from ordinary tequila. The production of Mezcal utilizes open-air fermentation where bacteria from crops, fruit trees and animals in the surrounding area enter the must to give it a mix of flavors. This rich taste differs from tequila, which contains a single agave flavor and woody notes in the case of aged tequila.

Vasquez’s remarkable mezcal selection offers one the full experience of the brand. He sources the drinks from small-scale producers in Oaxaca, whose trust and respect he has gained over the years. He offers the small producers a fair price for Mezcal and only works with brands that pay their workers fairly and those who care about securing Mezcal’s future. Vasquez believes in supporting the growth of small producers and adapting sustainable methods such as planting seeds to ensure the continuity of the brand.

In his experience as a business owner, Vasquez has turned down offers from popular brands like Casamigos, El Silencio and Patron and opted to work with small producers even during low seasons. Madre is a great place to learn about mezcal production, including the Maestro Mezcaleros and brands, and appreciate the beverage. It is also a fun place for families to enjoy Oaxacan bar bites, guacamole and Mezcal margaritas.

Vasquez carefully selected the mezcal brands on his menu. The menu also indicates the agave species used to make each bottle and a map showing the region and state where it originates. The following are the top mezcals served at Madre.


Made in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, by Jorge Torres, this Mezcal is exclusively produced for Madre. It features the De Castilla agave with pulque and 51% ABV. Vasquez learnt of Amormata from the Maestros del Mezcal who promote Mezcal from different regions. The Maestros de Mezcal is an organization that consists of Mezcal producers from different regions in Mexico. They aim to maintain and protect Mezcal’s history, culture and resources and plant agave seeds for sustainability.

During Amormata production, a fermented agave solution called Pulque is included in the open-air fermentation process.


Pedro Jimenez, the creator of this earthy, flavorful Mezcal, claims that Mezonte supports the conservation of mezcal culture and tradition in Mexico, especially in the regions of Michoacan and Jalisco. Vasquez also promotes using ancient distillation techniques and the culture of paying producers and workers fair wages.

The origin of Mezonte can be traced back to the 16th century when Filipino sailors introduced copper pot stills to Mexico. Fifteen years ago, underground fermentation pits containing agaves in copper pot stills were discovered beneath volcanic rocks after a landslide.

Santos Juarez distils 550 litres of this brand in Jalisco, infusing it with citrus, spices and herbs giving it an exciting taste. He uses Alineno and Cimarron agaves in production with 47% ABV.

5 Sentidos.

This brand of mezcal is distilled by Pedro Pascual  Hernandez in the Santa Catarina Minas region of Oaxaca. According to Vasquez, Pedro produces small batches of 5 Sentidos and utilizes the ancient distillation style of the clay pot. In his production, Tio Pedro uses 65% of Tobazinche, 35% of Tobola and agaves with 47% ABV. He carefully distils a limited amount of 5 Sentidos that is flavorful in one big wooden container.

Mezcalito Pal Alma

Mezcalito Pal Alma is among Vasquez’s top brands of mezcales. According to Vasquez, it makes him think of barbacoa wrapped in leaves and baking in an oven. Made in Puebla, Mexico by Asuncion Matilde, this brand is special among the Mezcaleros and is commonly consumed during religious holidays, baptisms and weddings. Asuncion Matilde uses Espadilla agave with 65% ABV in its distillation process and flavors it with avocado leaves and criollo avocado.

Rey Campero

Ramiri Snchez Altamirano distills Rey Campero in Zoquitlan, Oaxaca. He uses Marmorata agave with 52.9% ABV to make this peppery Mezcal. According to Vasquez, his first encounter with this brand intrigued him, and he asked Ramiro to send a sample of Rey Campero to the mezcal certification board. The brand reached the US market in 2009 and is included in Madre’s mezcal menu.


Ivan Vasquez’s selection of various brands of Mezcal has significantly contributed to the growth of Madre. His profound knowledge of the beverage and its different ingredients and distillation processes has attracted many to the restaurant and made Mezcal famous. Vasquez’s business also thrives on his partnership with small producers in Oaxaca who have come to trust and respect him and his work. In addition, he provides mezcal flights and tasting and is committed to promoting the brand and helping customers experience and appreciate Mezcal.