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This mezcal margarita is a smoky spin on the classic that's arguably better than the original. It's refreshing and tart, yet subtly sweet, with the assertive taste of mezcal. It's quick to make, and easily scales up to pitcher (aka party) size!
If you love the refreshingly tart taste of a classic margarita, and you enjoy smoky flavors, this mezcal margarita recipe is a must-make. It's a smoky spin on the classic that we think is better than the original!
We're sometimes reluctant to mess with a good thing, but this is a case where the variation really works. It's everything we love about a classic margarita but with an assertive depth and earthiness from mezcal.
If you're new to mezcal, you can think of it as tequila's cousin. They're both made from the agave plant, but mezcal is buried in pits with hot rocks which imparts a strong smoky flavor.
Making a mezcal margarita is just like making a regular margarita. Rim your glass, mix the ingredients together, pour it into glasses, and serve it garnished with a lime wedge.
For this recipe, we make an easy homemade agave simple syrup for an authentic sweet taste. It's made by just dissolving agave syrup in water, and any unused syrup stores well in the fridge so you can make your next margarita even faster.
Mix up a mezcal margarita for a bold, refreshing drink on a hot day when you feel like venturing beyond the usual. It pairs naturally with Mexican food and it's the perfect drink for Cinco de Mayo celebrations!
What's in a mezcal margarita?
If you've ever wondered if you can use mezcal in margaritas, the answer is yes! You only need a handful of ingredients to make this mezcal margarita recipe. Here's everything you need:
- Margarita salt – margarita salt varies but one ingredient they all have in common is coarse-grained salt. They also usually contain citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit), and sometimes chile powder or other spices. We use Tajín in the pictures.
- Mezcal – it's not necessary to buy top-notch mezcal for this recipe, but quality does count. Since it's a spirit-forward cocktail, a sipping-quality mezcal will make this drink the most enjoyable.
- Lime juice – as with all cocktails, fresh lime juice is best!
- Agave simple syrup – for an authentically sweet taste that will balance out the sour lime juice and smoky mezcal. You can also make honey syrup by substituting the agave for honey.
- Triple sec – this clear, orange-flavored liqueur offers a citrus punch that's classic to a margarita.
The easy-to-make agave simple syrup is made with just two ingredients: agave and warm water. You can make as much as you'd like by mixing 2 parts of warm water with 1 part of agave syrup. For example, for a larger quantity, use 2 cups of water and 1 cup of agave syrup.
How to make a mezcal margarita
Enjoy a mezcal margarita anytime you'd mix up a classic margarita. It's a refreshing cocktail for hot sunny days and tastes great with Mexican food! Here's how to make one in a couple of easy steps:
- Run a cut lime around the rim of the glass and then dip it into margarita salt.
- Mix all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker or jar with fresh ice. Give it a stir – there's no need to shake it.
- Pour it into your glass and serve it garnished with a lime slice. Cheers!
Make a pitcher of mezcal margaritas
If you're hosting a party or serving a crowd, instead of mixing up individual drinks, make a pitcher of mezcal margaritas! Simply use a standard pitcher and scale up the ratio by using cups instead of ounces. Pour the mixed margarita into glasses, garnish, and serve!
Make it a spicy mezcal margarita
If you love a bit of heat, a spicy margarita is a popular variation that's easy to make! Simply muddle a few fresh jalapeño coins in your shaker or jar before adding the other ingredients. Finish it off by giving your glass a spicy rim using Tajín instead of margarita salt.
When to serve mezcal margaritas
Just like a regular margarita, mezcal margaritas are cool and refreshing, making them perfect for patio sipping on warm weather days. Serve them with any kind of Mexican food from tacos to carnitas, enchiladas, nachos, and more!
If you love the taste of smoke, enjoy a mezcal margarita with our grilled mezcal chicken fajitas.
What's the best type of mezcal to use?
You don't need a high-quality mezcal for this recipe, but something you'd enjoy sipping on will make the drink most enjoyable.
Mezcal is a bit too smoky for me. How do I tone it down a bit?
If you want to tone down the smokiness, try a mix of half tequila and half mezcal for this recipe.
What is the leaf garnish in the pictures?
We garnished the mezcal margaritas in the pictures with the spiky leaves from the crown of a pineapple.
What's the best kind of glass to use?
A rocks glass is the traditional glass for serving margaritas. They're short and wide with a sturdy bottom.
Can I use Grand Marnier or Cointreau instead of triple sec?
While they are all orange liqueurs, they each have their own unique tasting notes. Cointreau can be used in place of triple sec, but we don't recommend using Grand Marnier. Grand Marnier is darker in color, with notes of vanilla and oak which don't mix with the other flavors happening in this cocktail.
Can I prepare it ahead of time?
Yes! To save time, mix up the ingredients ahead of time without the ice, and place them in the fridge to cool. When you're ready to serve, pour it into an ice-filled glass with a salt rim.
- Margarita salt (we use Tajín)
- 2 ounces mezcal
- 1 ounce lime juice
- ¾ ounce agave syrup (recipe below)
- ½ ounce Triple Sec
Agave Simple Syrup
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- ½ tablespoon agave syrup
- Rub the rim of a glass with a cut piece of lime and then dip it into margarita salt (we used Tajin in the pictures.) Add ice to the glass.Margarita salt
- Put a handful of ice into a cocktail mixer or jar. Add the mezcal, lime juice, agave simple syrup, and Triple Sec and stir well.2 ounces mezcal, 1 ounce lime juice, ¾ ounce agave syrup, ½ ounce Triple Sec
- Pour it into your salt-rimmed glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
Agave Simple Syrup
- Mix the warm water and agave syrup in a small glass.1 tablespoon warm water, ½ tablespoon agave syrup
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.