Are you familiar with the stuff?! If not, don’t worry, you’re in good company with many of my friends who have given me blank stares when I tell them about my new obsession with mezcal margaritas. But now that you’re hearing about it, you’ve got to track some down soon. Because after a solid decade or so of calling margaritas (with tequila) my favorite drink — which will forever and always be my first cocktail love — I have to confess that my affections are quickly being won over by margaritas made with tequila’s smoky, spicy cousin.
Mezcal margaritas are where it’s at.
But what is mezcal, some of you ask?
Well, it actually is the “cousin” of tequila. It’s made from the same blue agave plant in the “Tequila” region of Mexico, and is usually produced in Oaxaca. But while tequila’s agave is usually baked in stone ovens, mezcal’s agave is buried in pits with hot rocks and smoked. And thus, the flavor is similar to tequila, but totally different. I like to think of it as the “scotch” of the tequila world. It’s smoky, it’s earthy, and it’s absolutely amazing in cocktails…
…like my beloved margaritas. :)
I’ve slowly been falling in love with mezcal cocktails over the past few years. But it wasn’t until Kathryne and I were in Austin last February that I tried a sip of my first mezcal margarita. And let me be clear — I was skeptical going into it. Tequila margaritas have always been my jam, and I was reluctant to mess with a good thing. But let’s just say…
…it was a game changer.
Or at least, I should clarify, it was for me.
I have learned since then that many people do not share my affinity for smoky flavors in food (i.e. salsas) or drinks (i.e. scotch and mezcal). If that’s you, then I’d probably just stick with tequila. But if you happen to fall in Camp Smoky — or even if you might like to try a hint of smokiness in your drink — I think you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. ;)
I finally bought my first bottle of mezcal (in the checkout of World Market, of all places) last month, and Barclay and I made our first batch the following night. I basically just took my go-to classic margarita recipe (made with tequila, fresh lime juice, orange liqueur and a hint of agave nectar) and subbed in mezcal in place of the tequila. And the result??
Margarita magic, I tell you. :)
Oh my goodness, I was such a fan. Annnnd I have continued to be a fan in the multiple batches that we have tried since. It’s like a scotch-y margarita! The tart lime juice and sweet agave pair absolutely perfectly with the smoky, rich mezcal. All of those made all the better, of course, with some nice chunky salt around the rim. The drink definitely feels much stronger, and made me want to sip it much more slowly (like scotch) than, um, “drink” it down as I’m occasionally tempted to do with tequila. (Which was a good thing!) But I absolutely loved it.
I will say that Barclay was more a fan of the half-tequila, half-mezcal version of this drink. So if you like a little less smoky — or if you’d like to stretch that bottle of mezcal a little further (since it’s definitely pricier than tequila) — that’s another great option too. And probably a good place to start either way if you’re new to mezcal.
But bottom line — if you love smoky drinks, it’s absolutely worth the try.
And then you have to tell me what you think about it. :)
This Mezcal Margaritas recipe is everything you love about traditional margs, but kicked up a notch with some smoky mezcal.
1½ ounces mezcal
1 ounce Cointreau (or any orange liqueur)
¾ ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
optional: agave nectar or simple syrup for sweetening, if desired
optional: lime wedge and salt for rimming the glass
If you would like salt-rimmed glasses, begin by running a lime slice (the juicy part) around the top rim of a glass. Fill a shallow bowl with salt, and dip the rim in the salt until it is covered with your desired amount of salt. Set aside.
Add mezcal, lime juice and Cointreau to a cocktail shaker, and shake or stir until combined. Taste, and if you would like it to be sweeter (most people do!), stir in a half teaspoon of agave or simple syrup until the mix reaches your desired level of sweetness.
Fill glass with ice. Pour in the margarita mixture over the rocks. Serve immediately, garnished with an extra lime wedge if desired.
Must say I love, love the design on that bottle! I will hunt this Mezcal tequila around here, smoky sounds good!
Isn’t it great?! We hope you enjoy the recipe! :)
I’ve slowly been learning to love mezcal, and now I actually do really enjoy it! I haven’t whipped up my own mezcal cocktail at home just yet, but will certainly be trying some out this winter!
Oh man, I’ve gotta get my hands on a bottle of that stuff so I can make these – I’m intrigued!
My only mixed drink is a margarita on the Rocks. I read about Mezcal in a magazine so off I went to buy a bottle. I love smoked salt so I was really intrigued with the description of the Mezcal and the different process from tequila. I tried it straight…that smokiness really lingers!!! Oh my…yuuuuummmm in a margarita. Keeping the ingredients simple so you can taste each component is best.
I can’t believe I’ve never had mezcal. I consider myself almost a professional margarita drinker! This sounds amazing and I can’t wait to make one…or two…or….
We hope you’ll like it Kathleen (and these margaritas)! :D
Mescal definitely sounds intriguing in Margaritas. I’m not generally a fan of smoky, except for green chiles, but I have begun to like Margaritas when made with fresh ingredients. We had some of those last summer at a Mexican restaurant on the NC Outer Banks, which were really, really good. Now I’ve started making persimmon Margaritas, which are also very nice. When I have a chance I’ll definitely have to try this, probably with the half and half option.
Very cool Susan – I LOVE the OBX (I live in Greensboro, NC). What was the restaurant? And those persimmon margaritas sound amazing, what a good idea! Anyway, we hope you enjoy the Mezcal. :)
Ever since you snapped this I have been dying to try it! I am still pregnant though womp womp! I just have to wait five more days then boom! It’s marg time!
Thanks Stefanie (and we’re so sorry you can’t have one now) – but congrats, that’s so exciting! You’re almost there too, so hang on (you will be so incredibly deserving of that marg)! :D
Yum, it must be five o’clock. A smoky margarita sounds different and delicious!
We hope you enjoy, Karen!
Yes! I love anything with a smokey flavor. I have never heard of this tequila. I must try it!!!! :)
Yes, you should totally try it, it’s got such a distinct, cool flavor! We hope you enjoy. :)
Hello from The north of Mexico, thanks for share the recipe, I’m a mezcal lover, very good explanation on the difference between mezcal and tequila, also consider that just the tequila made in the tequila region can be called tequila, that’s a designation of origin, and is another reason that mezcal name is different even if the main ingredient (agave) is the same. Also you are trying one of the best mezcales that I know, also I recomend you Los Danzantes reposado, is more smokey flavor, is my favorite.
¡Hola Rosalia! Thank you for your recommendation, we’ll definitely have to get our hands on that Los Danzantes resposado for sure! :)
This margarita recipe is perfect for me to make for the hot Australian summer here in Australia!
These margaritas look tasty! Hubby and I are going to an ‘adults only’ wedding in Cabo after Christmas – I will definitely look for the Mezcal after reading your post. Thank you for sharing your discovery. Be sure to stop by Oven Hug for some healthy recipe inspiration :) Cheers, Bita
Thank you Bita, we hope you and your husband enjoy this – have a great time at that wedding (it sounds like it’ll be a blast)!
I LOVE MEZCAL TEQUILA!!! and you’re literally the first person in the world to agree with me on this!! If you’re ever in Chicago, you MUST MUST go to Big Star in Wicker Park. they have THEE best tacos in the world and their house margarita (which is made from mezcal tequila) is LIFE CHANGING!
thank you for sharing! xoxo
Thanks for sharing that recommendation with us Samhita, we’ve heard awesome things about Big Star, we definitely need to try it! :D
I’ve loved mezcal for too many years to count – but back in the day the only good mezcal had a worm in the bottle… The lucky one got the worm :)
If you wanna kick it up a notch on the smokiness, try salting the rim with ‘smoked’ salt. That’s the way we make ’em and it is uh, A GAME CHANGER.
Try it with grilled pineapple. My first taste of Mezcal was at a restaurant and it was a grilled Pineapple Margarita. It’s was amazing!
This was simple and amazing thanks!
Made these and they were DELICIOUS! Perfect combo for game night in! Thanks so much!
I’ve been a fan of Mezcal for years. I searched for a recipe and happened onto yours. It’s perfect! Perfectly balanced flavor. Love it! If you happen to be a mango lover, add 1 oz. of mango juice as well. It’s a nice twist!
Tequila *is* mezcal. It’s one type of mezcal.
My husband and I had a weekend of trying different cocktail recipes and this was by far my favorite. Thanks for this!
I agree, but it’s even better with chili salt on the rim…delish!
Soooooo good! These were easy to make, with stuff I always have stocked on my bar cart. Perfectly sweet & smoky!
We fell in love with mezcal while traveling in Mexico, and brought some back. I love the simplicity of this recipe. Delicious!
That’s the classic margarita recipe.
I use it and never fail to impress and have a good time!
But I ‘accidently’ discovered a complimentary taste relationship between ginger and mezcal. It happened when all I had to mix was ginger kombucha (GTs. in this case). I tried it. Delicious! Great combo!
I have it on my ‘to do’ list to make some ginger syrup and use that in place of the lime juice and agave syrup.