Alongside Tacos, the Margarita is one of Mexico's most famous food and drink exports. And surely one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about the Latinamerican country. Well, I don't know about you, of course. But at least, that's the case with my mind. And why not make it a Mezcal Margarita?
Traditionally, a Margarita consists of Silver Tequila, Triple Sec, a sugary component, and salt for the rim. A Mezcal Margarita follows the same principle but is a more smoky version of this all-time favorite summer cocktail.
I think the Mezcal Margarita is a drink that every true Margarita lover should have tried at least once. -Also because the Mezcal-fanbase has only been growing in recent years. So here is what the fuss is all about.
What is Mezcal?
Mezcal is an agave spirit, just like Tequila. But the production of Tequila is strictly regulated regarding the plants used and the place of production.
Only the blue weber agave is allowed for Tequila, whereas, for Mezcal, producers can work with a wide range of different agave types. Also, Tequila must originate from Jalisco or a few other municipalities outside of the state.
Mezcal, however, can be legally produced in as many as 9 Mexican states. And there's also a difference in the production process that lends Mezcal its characteristic smokiness. So to quickly sum it up, technically, Tequila is a sub-type of Mezcal. Or in other words, every Tequila is a Mezcal but not every Mezcal is a Tequila.
Now, if you expect them to taste the same, you are mistaken. There are similarities, but Mezcal is smoky and less sweet than Tequila. The underlying vegetal and earthy taste notes are quite the same, but the smokiness in Mezcal can be a real game-changer.
If you want to read more about the different types of spirits from Mexico and how they compare, here's where you can continue reading:
Which Mezcal to use in a Mezcal Margarita
Mezcals can be classified into different aging categories, from not aged to aging for a long time: Joven, Reposado, Añejo, to Extra Añejo. And there are also different levels of smokiness.
However, there's no official scale indicating the degree of smoke in a Mezcal. So finding that out is down to try-and-error or research.
Like for a Mezcal Old Fashioned, the most common choice for a Mezcal Margarita is a Joven style Mezcal. But because the other ingredients in the cocktail will counterbalance the flavors and smokiness to some extent, you can be brave and go for something bolder even if you're not entirely the smoky type.
Ilegal Mezcal Joven
Level of smokiness: low
Taste: Eucalyptus, apple, citrus, red chiltepe
A good choice for everyone new to Mezcal. Illegal Joven is not overly smoky and comes at a reasonable price.
Level of smokiness: high
Taste: green maguey, nuts, herbal, smoke
Montelobos is a brilliant choice if you want to experience the true Mezcal-vibe. It's definitely a smoky spirit. Too smoky for me to enjoy it neat, but perfect in a Margarita.
Style: Anejo, aged 16 months
Level of smokiness: medium
Taste: oak, caramel, molasses, spice
Some might argue that an Anejo is wasted in a cocktail. But it will improve your drink, so if you're feeling fancy and have some bucks to spare, this is a Mezcal to consider for your next Margarita.
Other ingredients that go into a Mezcal Margarita
The remaining components besides the base spirit stay the same as in a classic Margarita. So you basically only substitute Tequila with your favorite Mezcal, and your good to go. The other elements are Triple Sec (I prefer Cointreau), agave syrup, and lime juice.
As for the syrup, there's also the option to do one part agave and one part simple syrup. We recommend that for the classic version of this cocktail. But for the Mezcal Margarita, 100% agave enhances the difference in taste even further - in a good way.
And don't forget to use freshly squeezed lime juice and a decent quality salt for the rim - fleur de sel is our favorite. It rounds the cocktail up beautifully.
By the way, if you like to start your Mezcal experience a little more cautiously, you can also opt for a split base with half Mezcal half Tequila. But, depending on the Mezcal you use, the effort might not be worth it, and you might end up not tasting a notable difference.
Therefore our Margarita Mezcal recipe is a single base one. -Split-base is a good option if, perhaps, you mispicked and ended up with something too smoky for your liking.
Make it spicy
You can also create a cocktail that beautifully combines smoky flavors with some extra spicy by adding a bit of chili to your Mezcal Margarita. Simply chop up some jalapeños and add a few of the small wheels to your drink.
Alternatively, you can also go with a habanero chili. We had that once in Tulum. It really packs a punch. But don't overdo it. One or two thin wheels of habanero are enough for the average cocktail drinker. I promise!
- 2 oz Mezcal
- 1 oz Fresh lime juice
- 0.5 oz Triple sec
- 0.5 oz Agave syrup
- 0.25 cup Fleur de sel
- Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of a glass.
- Dip the glass rim generously in fleur de sel and add some ice cubes to chill it.
- Put the Mezcal, lime juice, Triple sec, and agave syrup into your cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Then shake well and strain it in the prepared glass.
- Garnish with a lime wedge.