I'd only vaguely heard of mezcal until about a year ago, when I was visiting my sister in New York City. One evening when her husband was out, we decided to try his fancy bottle of mezcal. I looked up a mezcal cocktail recipe and chose one at random because I thought it was a fun word to say- mezcalitas. This led to a night full of citrusy, limey, addictingly delicious cocktails that we drank with nachos while we watched the sunset. That night, I was converted into a lover of mezcal.
After this trip, mezcalitas were my new drink, and I insisted on making them for all of my roommates and friends when the weekend rolled around. After traveling around Mexico and trying mezcal in its birthplace, Oaxaca, my love for this agave spirit only grew.
What is Mezcal?
Mezcal is considered by some to be the smoky cousin of tequila, but it's actually a liquor full of its own characteristics and history, far more complex than just another version of tequila. Mezcal comes from the agave plant and is beloved for its uniquely smoky flavor. Its name comes from the the word "mexcalli" in Nahuatl, which is the language spoken by the Indigenous people of central Mexico. Mexcalli means "oven-cooked agave," which is a simple description of how this amazing liquor is made.
Mezcal has been made for hundreds of years in Mexico by cooking the heart of the agave plant, called the piña. Although tequila is the most well-known type of mezcal, there are many varieties, made from different agave plants and with distinct characteristics. One thing that all mezcal has in common is how tasty it is in a cocktail! Its smoky flavors goes great with citrus and spice, so many of these cocktails have these elements. Here are 7 mezcal cocktail recipes to make you fall in love with this Mexican liquor like I did.
The mezcalita was the first cocktail that made me fall in love with mezcal, so I'll always stand by this drink as the best mezcal cocktail. Although it sounds like a margarita, this mezcal cocktail is its own brand of deliciousness, with a strong citrus flavor and a spicy rim. The mezcalita features orange juice, lime juice, mezcal, orange bitters, an optional sweetener, and a spicy rim of Tajín seasoning. Add a lime wedge garnish to make it as aesthetic as it is delectable.
Get the recipe at Cookie and Kate.
2. Mezcal Paloma
A paloma is a go-to cocktail for any tequila lover, so why not adapt it to tequila's smoky cousin? The tart grapefruit juice, sweet simple syrup and fizzy club soda combine perfectly to make a light, refreshing drink you could guzzle down all night long. The rim of salt and chili powder give the drink an extra kick that make it even tastier.
Get the recipe at Peel With Zeal.
3. Mezcal Sour
As a lover of mezcal and whiskey sours, the fact that a mezcal sour exists is very exciting. Mezcal is a great stand-in for the typical whiskey you'd use in a sour cocktail, adding an exotic, smoky flavor that brings the tangy drink to a new level. Use a cocktail shaker to make the egg white foam and get extra fancy with a lime twist garnish.
Get the recipe at Bon Appetit.
4. Mezcal Mule
You can't go wrong with a classic Moscow mule, and making your Moscow mule into a mezcal mule brings it to a new level of tastiness. Lime and mezcal are a go-to combo, and with the added ginger flavor of ginger ale or ginger beer, this drink is beyond yummy and is great for those just getting into this Mexican liquor. Make these for a cocktail party or a treat-yourself moment.
Get the recipe at Blossom to Stem.
5. La Pina
La pina, meaning pineapple in Spanish, combines the flavors of pineapple, chili, cilantro and lime juice. Pineapple juice is one of my favorite things to drink with mezcal, because the sweetness of the pineapple so perfectly balances the smoky flavor. This drink uses that combination but makes it even better by adding an extra kick and some citrus flavor.
Get the recipe at Epicurious.
6. Oaxaca Old Fashioned
An old fashioned is typically made with bourbon or whiskey, but the cocktail goes great with this Mexican twist. The combo of mezcal, bitters and citrus flavor blend perfectly to make an amazingly drink-able cocktail perfect for a fancy date night in or after-work treat. This simple drink involves reposado tequila, mezcal, agave nectar, a dash Angostura bitters, and an orange peel.
Get the recipe at Cooking NY Times.
7. Mezcal Margarita
The mezcal margarita is an obvious choice when considering which drink to make with this smoky liquor. It's similar to the mezcalita but is has more lime flavor and less orange flavor, making it a delicious, spiced-up version of your classic margarita. This mezcal cocktail is made with mezcal, Cointreau or any orange liqueur, fresh lime juice, and a sweetener like agave nectar or simple syrup. Garnish with a lime wedge and you're basically in Mexico!
Get the recipe at Gimme Some Oven.