Mezcal Margarita

Infuse your favorite Mexican cocktail with a distinct smokiness and concoct the Mezcal Margarita, taking the best of the Margarita and taking it in delicious new directions.

Mezcal Margarita featured image above

The Mezcal Margarita has a history as smoky as its taste. While we can deduce that it’s a spinoff of the ever-popular Margarita, whoever chose to replace the tequila with mezcal has a significant page in cocktail history to claim. Some say a Tijuanan waiter created the drink to honor a young dancer named Margarita Carmen Cansino. Ms. Cansino would go on to greater fame under a different name: Rita Hayworth. Others claim it was made in honor of American singer/songwriter Peggy Lee, though there isn’t much proof to back this up. Its origins could have been more prosaic: a take on the Sidecar cocktail or the replacement of the chief ingredient of a popular Mexican drink with another of the country’s popular spirits.

As a result of this tinkering, we get a Margarita with the smoky flavor of mezcal that only enhances the hints of orange and lime already found in the Mexican-bar staple. If you’re new to the world of mezcal, get ready for quite the tour. There are many to try and experiment with, making the Mezcal Margarita not only a delicious drink but eye-opening experience.

What is Mezcal?

Think of mezcal as the Islay Scotch of tequila. Once you have a sip you’ll know what I mean. It has a smoky, mesquite flavor that it brings to the margarita. It thoroughly transforms that cocktail, taking it miles away from its original profile. Tequila does have similarities with mezcal, however. Both are made from the agave plant, though tequila is made exclusively with blue agave, where mezcal can be derived from several varieties of the plant. The spirits are also divided by their respective production methods: agave is baked to produce tequila whereas mezcal requires that you roast the agave; in fact, that’s what gives it that smoky finish.

What is the Best Mezcal to Use?

As with most spirits, it really comes down to personal taste. If you want a balance of sweet and savory, and a smokiness that isn’t overpowering, try Del Maguey Vida Mezcal or Ilegal Mezcal Joven. Montelobos Mezcal Joven, meanwhile, has an unmistakable smokiness. If you try Mezcal Union Uno, you should know that it is in fact a blend of two agave varieties, and features floral, fruity, and smoky notes. Lastly, El Silencio Espadín Mezcal provides a nice balance of smoke, citrus, and, sweetness, and makes an appropriate entry point into the mezcal world.

Servings 1
5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. mezcal
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 oz. orange liqueur Cointreau or Grand Marnier preferred
  • 1/2 oz. agave syrup or simple syrup (optional)
  • lime wheel (for garnish)
  • salt (for rim)
  • ice cubes

Instructions

  • Rub a lime along the rim of your margarita glass. Dip the rim in salt to coat it and set the glass aside.
  • In a cocktail shaker, combine mezcal, fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, and agave syrup (optional) then fill the shaker with ice until it is half full.
  • Cover the shaker tightly and shake it vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds, until it feels really cold.
  • Strain the margarita into your prepared glass with a few ice cubes. Garnish your glass with a lime wheel.

Nutrition

Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 14IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Tips & Tricks to Making a Perfect Mezcal Margarita

  • Use a quality mezcal. Like tequila, there are very good varieties and there are a few not-so-good varieties; few sit in that midrange, so it’s better to go for the higher-end products.
  • Use fresh lime juice instead of pre-made stuff or concentrates. The fresh juice has an effervescence to it whereas the bottled juice just tastes synthetic to me.
  • If you aren’t a fan of salt rims, try sugar, and make your margarita a sweet treat instead of a savory one.
  • Chill the mixture before serving it to allow the flavors to meld.
Mezcal Margarita featured image below

FAQs

Mezcal Margarita featured image below

Mezcal Margarita Variations

Jalapeno and Cilantro: Bring the heat and the green by muddling some in the shaker before the arrival of the other ingredients. It’s up to you whether you want to transfer the muddled ingredients to your glass or leave them behind.

A Sweetie: Use a natural sweetener instead of simple syrup. Agave is ideal, but if you don’t have any, honey or maple syrup will work nicely.

Mezcal Margarita Mocktail: To make this alliterative gem, use Seedlip Spice 94 instead of Mezcal and replace the Cointreau with orange juice or more lime juice.

Frozen Mezcal Margarita: Just like its cousin, the Mezcal Margarita can also be served as a slushee. Add the ingredients to a blender along with crushed ice then pulse it until the desired consistency is achieved.

We also have on the site, these varieties of Margarita you might want to try…

Classic Margarita: That perfect blend of tequila, lime juice, and a hint of Cointreau.

Cadillac Margarita: An upscale of 100% blue agave tequila, Grand Marnier, and fresh lime juice.

Pomegranate Margarita: The classic you know but with an infusion of pomegranate juice.

Spicy Margarita: Peppers and bitters give this one a bite.

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