Smoky Trend: Unique Mezcal Cocktails

It’s been made the same way for over 200 years and is the perfect way to spice up your cocktail menu. Mezcal has a smoky, distinctive flavor that comes from roasting the heart of the agave plant. This complex flavor profile can be tough to master, so we’ve gathered some easy cocktail recipes for you to add to your arsenal.

Maguey Sour

This citrusy, sweet drink from Food & Wine is a great introduction to the mezcal world. It’s gentle on the palate and similar in preparation to other “sours,” meaning it won’t be too far a stretch from the classic whiskey sour.

What you need:

  • ice
  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 1/2 oz Benedictine (brandy-based herbal liqueur)
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz orgeat (almond-flavored syrup)
  • 1/2 whites from large egg
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and 1 orange twist, for garnish

What to do:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all the remaining ingredients except the garnishes and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with the grated nutmeg and orange twist.

Last of the Oaxacans

This twist on the classic Last Word cocktail from Serious Eats adds serrano peppers into the mix, making it a smoky and spicy treat. It’s best served with seafood or chicken and is perfect for a humid summer evening.

What you need:

  • ice
  • 3/4 oz mezcal
  • 3/4 oz freshly squeezed juice from 1 to 2 limes
  • 3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino
  • 3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 cm slice serrano pepper
  • Garnish: additional serrano pepper slice

What to do:

  1. Add mezcal, lime juice, maraschino, Chartreuse, and serrano pepper to a cocktail shaker. Fill 2/3 full with ice and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker begins to frost, about 20 seconds.
  2. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with additional pepper slice and serve.

Tobacco Road

Tobacco Road, from Serious Eats, is a nutty and smoky take on a mixed mezcal drink. It uses salt and grapefruit to add complexity to the flavor. This tasty drink is simple to make and really features the core flavors of a good mezcal.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 oz reposado or anejo mezcal
  • 1 1/4 oz Cynar
  • 1/2 oz fino sherry
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Garnish: grapefruit twist
  • Pinch of salt

What to do:

  1. Add the mezcal, Cynar, sherry, and bitters to a rocks glass. Then add a large cube of ice.
  2. Give a gentle stir (about 5 seconds), then garnish with the grapefruit twist, drop a pinch of salt on top of the ice, and serve.

Walking Stick

This Cuban style cocktail from Saveur mixes mezcal with rum to create a fruity combination. Preparing this cocktail is not for the faint of heart and needs to be started up to two weeks before you plan on serving it.

What you need:

  • 1 oz. mezcal, preferably Del Maguey Vida
  • 1 oz. rum, preferably Hamilton Demerara
  • 34 fresh lime juice
  • 12 Campari
  • 14 Cherry Heering
  • 14 Benedictine
  • 1 sprig mint, for garnish

What to do:

  1. To make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the cinnamon sticks and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Pour the syrup through a fine sieve and then pour into a container. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  2. To make the cocktail: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine 34 of the cinnamon syrup with the mezcal, rum, lime juice, Campari, Cherry Heering, and Benedictine. Shake vigorously, and then strain into a wine goblet filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Anybody can make a margarita. Take it to the next level and surprise your guests with some tasty mezcal cocktails the next time you host.