Mezcal Margarita

published May 30, 2024
Mezcal Margarita Recipe

Even mezcal haters will like this cocktail.

Serves1

Prep5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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angled shot of two mezcal margaritas, garnished with salt on the rime and a lime wheel
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

On a recent trip to Mexico City for the first time, I took a tacos and mezcal crawl with amazing tour guide Rocío García the very first night there so that we could immediately be immersed in the local food and drink. García is a member of the family that has been making their brand of mezcal, Naa Liuu, for three generations, and she taught us how mezcal is made and the differences between tequila and mezcal. The tour started off with sipping mezcals straight to experience the nuances in the flavors, but my favorite drink of the night was when we were served mezcalitas. These mezcalitas tasted like a margarita, but with a subtle smoky flavor, and I absolutely loved the blend of sweet, tart, and smoke. 

After seeing mezcalitas on menus all over CDMX, I assumed that they were just margaritas with mezcal swapped in for tequila. But García shared with me that mezcalita means a “refreshing mix of any fruit or fruit pulp, sweetener, and mezcal with ice.” Mezcalitas were created in the 1950s in Mexico City to slowly introduce drinkers to the taste of mezcal as well as counteract the high alcohol content in mezcal by mixing it with other ingredients.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that lime-based mezcalita I had loved, so I purchased some mezcal recently and started shaking up cocktails at home to recreate it. In my first attempt, I used mezcal, Cointreau, and lime juice, but the flavors were a bit muddled and flat. For my second attempt, I made a mezcalita known as a mezcal margarita. It had the same ingredients Garcia said were in the ones I had been served: mezcal, lime, simple syrup, and just a splash of sparkling water at the end. Bingo! The simple syrup sweetened the drink, yet allowed the flavors of the mezcal to shine through. I was transported back to CDMX, and now the mezcal margarita is part of my regular cocktail rotation at home.

Why You’ll Love It

  • The lime juice and simple syrup balance out the smoky flavors of mezcal to make a cocktail that’s light and refreshing.
  • You only really need three ingredients to make this cocktail: mezcal, lime, and simple syrup. If you want to make a salt rim, have some kosher salt on hand.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in a Mezcal Margarita

  • Mezcal: Mezcal is an alcohol made from the agave plant. The agave is roasted in a pit filled with lava rocks, charcoal, and wood, producing a distinctly smoky flavor.
  • Lime: The lime does triple duty: It moistens the rim of the glass so the salt can stick, the juice goes into the margarita, and a slice is used for garnish.
  • Simple syrup: This easy syrup made from equal parts granulated sugar and water sweetens and balances out the drink.
  • Salt: A salt rim provides a nice contrast to the sweet-tart, smoky cocktail. We like the texture of Diamond Crystal kosher salt the best, as it’s not too fine or coarse.

How to Make a Mezcal Margarita

  1. Rim the glass with salt. Run a piece of lime around the rim of a glass to moisten, then dip in salt. Fill the glass with ice.
  2. Shake the cocktail. Shake mezcal, lime juice, and simple syrup together with ice.
  3. Strain. Strain the mezcal margarita into the glass. Top with a splash of sparkling water if you’d like for a little effervescence.

Mezcal Margarita Recipe

Even mezcal haters will like this cocktail.

Prep time 5 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons

    Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 1

    medium lime

  • Ice

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    mezcal

  • 1 ounce

    simple syrup

  • Splash of club soda or sparkling water (optional)

Instructions

  1. Spread 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt in an even layer on a small flat plate. Quarter 1 medium lime. Cut 1 half-moon slice from one piece. Run the lime slice over the rim of an old-fashioned or margarita glass to moisten (save the slice for garnish). Invert the glass into the salt, turning it as needed, to coat the rim. Fill the glass with ice.

  2. Juice the remaining lime pieces until you have 1 ounce. Place the lime juice, 1 1/2 ounces mezcal, and 1 ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker halfway with ice, seal, and shake until the outside of the shaker is very frosty, about 20 seconds.

  3. Pour through a strainer into the glass. Top with a splash of club soda or sparkling water if desired. Garnish with the reserved lime slice.