Mezcal Margarita

Have you heard of mezcal?  Mezcal was predicted to be one of the biggest food trends of 2018, yet despite its popularity, many still have not tried it.  Mezcal, which means “oven-cooked agave“, is known for its distinct smoky flavor, which is unlike any other spirit, but mezcal is much more than just that.  Often described as incredibly complex with a full spectrum of flavors, mezcal is a true testament to the involved process required to make it. Surprisingly, this unique spirit is more similar to wine in its flavor spectrum than other spirits.

Mezcal margarita

What is Mezcal?

Mezcal, like its cousin tequila, is made from agave and hails from Mexico, but that’s where their similarities end.  What most don’t know is that tequila is classified as a mezcal. By definition, mezcal is any blue agave-based liquor that is made in specific regions of Mexico. This flavorful spirit can be made from over 30 varieties of agave, the most common varieties of agave used in making mezcal are tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño , and espadín. Espadín is the most common agave varietal of mezcal and accounts for about 90% of mezcal on the market.

Tequila and mezcal are both made from the harvested core of the agave plant, called the “piña.” But unlike tequila, which is typically produced by steaming the agave inside industrial ovens before being distilled in copper pots, mezcal, is cooked inside fire pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal before being distilled in clay pots. This artisanal production of mezcal is what makes the distinct smokiness of this popular spirit.

Mezcal margarita


For labeling, tequila is classified in three varieties: “blanco” (silver or plato, aged 0-2 months), “reposado” (aged 2-12 months) and “anejo” (aged 1-3 years). Mezcal categorizes itself only slightly differently; “joven” (blanco or abacado aged 0-2 months), “reposado” (aged 2-12 months) and “anejo” (at least one year).

Mezcal margarita

This mezcal margarita is rich and flavorful but light and refreshing at the same time. But I’ll warn you, it is not your typical margarita by any means.  The deep smokiness of mezcal is what truly shines in this cocktail and one must anticipate it to fully enjoy it.  Fresh citrus juice mellows that smoky intensity making this drink smooth yet memorable when sipping. My husband, an avid tequila lover, was extremely hesitant about the whole mezcal craze.  For him, the unique smoky flavor was questionable and he shied away from it for years. But this simple recipe of mine is what swayed him. This is the perfect cocktail for warm or cool evenings and may be just what you need as we slowly begin to close out summer.

Already a mezcal fan, below are some higher-end suggestions of the good stuff.

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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