Illegal cocktail

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 20, 2023

The Illegal cocktail is a delicious Mezcal-based cocktail. You need a respectable number of ingredients to mix this complex drink, which makes it so well-balanced.
Illegal cocktail with shaker and jigger

The Illegal cocktail is a new addition to the list of IBA standardized cocktails. A boozy mix of Mezcal, Rum, Maraschino liqueur, and a few more ingredients. 

It's a unique combination of bold flavors that brings sunshine to your mind, even on rainy days. This drink immediately transports you to Mexico, the home of Mezcal.

So let's find out how you can bring those exotic vibes of the Illegal cocktail to your home.

History of the Illegal Cocktail

As some might already know, I like to add a few historical facts - or at least assumptions. I believe this brings a bit of context to the recipe and makes it easier to grasp the drinks. 

The Illegal cocktail, however, seems to have been flying entirely under the radar. When I first heard about it, I was surprised to learn that there hardly is any information available about it.

The only interesting fact I could find is that the Illegal cocktail traditionally is served in clay mugs. -Just like the clay vessels commonly used to drink Pox, an ancient Mayan spirit, and other Latin American drinks like the Canchánchara or the Cantarito. All of them usually are served in those traditional mugs.

But as hazy as the history of the Illegal drink is, the ingredients and the preparation method are widely available. So let's talk about what you need to create this Mezcal cocktail.

Ingredients of the Illegal cocktail

This cocktail celebrates summer, sunshine, and beaches. It's boozy, smoky, tart, and refreshing. And the list of ingredients is quite long when compared to other drinks. 

So I think it's best to start with the base of the Illegal cocktail, Mezcal.

Mezcal in the Illegal cocktail

Mezcal is an agave-based Mexican spirit. Besides the typical taste of agave, it usually has a strong smoky flavor. Apart from Tequila, it's the most important spirits export from Mexico. 

And although Tequila is technically also a Mezcal, there are some differences in what defines both spirits. If you're interested in that, read about the differences between Mezcal and Tequila.

If you're new to Mezcal and unsure about the smokiness and which one to buy, here's a list of our Mezcal recommendations.

Jamaican Rum

Yet, Mezcal is not the only high-proof alcoholic ingredient. White Jamaican Rum is also part of the recipe. 

White Rums are typically relatively clean, fresh, and crisp. Therefore, this adds a touch of freshness and some fruity notes to the drink.

The Illegal Cocktail calls for an over-proof Rum, meaning it should have more than 100 proof - that equals 50% ABV.

Maraschino Liqueur

Maraschino liqueur is an Itialian high-proof liqueur made from the Marasca cherries. Apart from a cherry aroma, you can taste almonds, especially when you try this liqueur neat.

Overall, Maraschino liqueur it's quite dry and bitter and far less sugary than you might expect from a cherry liqueur.

Sweet components in the Illegal Cocktail

The Illegal gets its sweetness from two different ingredients: Falernum and simple syrup. The latter is regular sugar syrup. 

Falernum, in turn, is pretty popular in Tiki cocktail culture and features a long list of spices and fruity ingredients. If you want to make your own, here's a recipe for homemade Falernum.

Lime juice for the balance

Freshly squeezed lime juice balances these sweet components and helps to bring all the different flavors together.

As always, when making high-quality cocktails, the lime juice should be freshly squeezed. The slightly artificial acidity of pre-bottled citrus juices is will always shine through in your drinks.

Illegal cocktail with shaker and jigger


A refreshing cocktail based on Mezcal and Rum.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: falernum, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, mezcal, rum
Servings: 1
Calories: 188kcal
Cost: $2.70


  • 1 oz Espadin Mezcal
  • 0.5 oz Jamaica Overproof White Rum
  • 0.5 oz Falernum
  • 1 bsp Maraschino Luxardo
  • 0.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
  • Few drops Egg White - (Optional)


  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.
    1 oz Espadin Mezcal, 0.5 oz Jamaica Overproof White Rum, 0.5 oz Falernum, 1 bsp Maraschino Luxardo, 0.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice, 0.5 oz Simple Syrup, Few drops Egg White
  • Shake until the drink is well-chilled and strain the cocktail into an Old Fashioned glass or coupe glass. Alternatively, a traditional clay mug would be a great choice. Enjoy!


Serving: 3.75ozCalories: 188kcalCarbohydrates: 27.3gProtein: 0.3gFat: 0.2gSodium: 4.35mgPotassium: 70.75mgSugar: 26.03gVitamin C: 8.5mgCalcium: 21.5mgIron: 0.06mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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