These mezcal cocktails only require four ingredients or less, and are so easy that anyone can make them. Whether you’re just getting into mezcal or are already an enthusiast, there’s a simple mezcal cocktail for every occasion and palate!
It’s no secret that mezcal is an acquired taste, but once you’re hooked, you’re hooked for life! These mezcal cocktails are all easy to make, super delicious, and a great introduction to the spirit. From riffs on classic drinks to smoky, tropical margaritas to unique, unexpected cocktails, I’m confident everyone can find a mezcal cocktail they’ll fall in love with on this list!
What is mezcal?
Mezcal is a distilled spirit from Mexico made from the agave plant. While it’s known as tequila’s smoky counterpart, it actually predates tequila!
Mezcal gets its smoky flavor during the production process, where they roast the agave’s core (called the piña) in underground pits for several days. The roasted agave hearts are then crushed and fermented before being distilled at least twice. Traditionally, mezcal is served neat and meant to be a slow-sipping spirit, but it’s also great for adding smoky notes to cocktails.
It took a long time for mezcal to catch on in the states, but it’s experienced a huge surge in popularity over the past decade. Nowadays, there’s a mezcal variation on almost every classic cocktail you can think of, and countless original mezcal drink recipes are popping up everyday!
The difference between mezcal and tequila
Mezcal is defined as any spirit made from the agave plant, which means tequila is actually a type of mezcal! The relationship between the two can be compared to whiskey and bourbon, in that tequila is a type of mezcal that comes from a specific area with specific production rules. Below are their key differences:
Type of agave: You can make mezcal with roughly thirty types of agave, while tequila can only be made from blue agave.
Location: To be considered tequila, it has to come from one of five authorized Mexican states. The majority of mezcal comes from Oaxaca, but its production is a little more flexible and it can be made in ten different states.
Production method: When making mezcal, you roast the agave’s core in underground pits, which is what gives it a smoky taste. With tequila, the agave cores are steamed in ovens instead, which results in a brighter, fruitier flavor.
What flavors pair well with mezcal?
Since mezcal essentially tastes like a smoky tequila, it goes wonderfully with a wide range flavors from bitter to fruity to herbal! Below are some flavors that are commonly paired with mezcal.
Citrus juice (like lime, lemon, grapefruit, & blood orange)
Tropical juice (like pineapple, mango, & passionfruit)
This is just to name a few, so read on to see what else you can pair with mezcal and specific cocktail recipes! The roundup starts with mezcal riffs on classic cocktails, and progressively moves on to more unique, original drink recipes. Let’s go ahead and check them out, shall we!?
The Oaxaca Old Fashioned is one of the most well-known mezcal cocktails! It's named after the Mexican state of Oaxaca, which is the birthplace of mezcal and where it's primarily produced today. A classic Old Fashioned is made with sugar, water, whiskey, and bitters (usually Angostura bitters). In the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, the sugar is replaced with agave syrup, the whiskey with a split base of reposado tequila and mezcal, and the Angostura bitters with chocolate bitters. It's a unique Mexican-inspired twist on a classic that's spirit-forward, smooth, and flavorful.
If you love margaritas, you need to try this easy, classic mezcal marg! It only requires three ingredients: mezcal, orange liqueur, and lime juice. You can also add in some simple syrup or agave syrup if you like your margs a little bit sweeter. It tastes just like a normal margarita, but with smoky undertones.
Here's another smoky riff on a classic cocktail! The Negroni is made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It's one of the most famous classic cocktails, and its template of using three ingredients in equal parts is so fun to experiment with! In this spin on the Negroni, gin is replaced with mezcal, resulting in a slow-sipping drink that's bittersweet, smoky, and citrusy.
In this recipe, the classic Moscow Mule takes a trip to Mexico! Moscow Mules are a simple cocktail made up of vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. For the Mezcal Mule, you simply replace vodka with mezcal for a seriously tasty twist on the cocktail. It's spicy, tangy, smoky, and super refreshing.
That's right -- even the Manhattan has a mezcal variation! While it's a big departure from the classic cocktail, trust me: it's really good. This unique take on the Manhattan uses mezcal in place of whiskey, along with the classic ingredients of orange bitters and sweet vermouth. If you enjoy sophisticated, spirit-forward drinks, add this one to your list!
This recipe is a variation on a prohibition-era cocktail called the Bee's Knees that's made with gin, lemon, and honey. Lemon and honey are flavors that both work great with mezcal, so it only makes sense to give this classic cocktail a modern mezcal twist! It's bright and tart from the lemon juice, has a warm sweetness from the honey syrup, and the mezcal adds smoky complexity.
The Naked & Famous uses the same template as the classic Last Word cocktail. This means it's made up of equal parts of four different ingredients: mezcal, yellow chartreuse, Aperol, and lime juice. It's smoky from the mezcal, herbal and complex from the chartreuse, bittersweet from the Aperol, and citrusy and tart from the lime juice. If you're just starting to dip your toes into mezcal, this cocktail is an approachable and seriously delicious introduction to the spirit.
The Mezcal Sour is a fantastic cocktail to try when you're first getting into mezcal, because while it has the signature mezcal smokiness, it's super well-balanced and easy to drink. Most sours are made with two parts spirit, one part acid, one part sweet, and sometimes egg white. This take on a sour omits the egg white for the sake of simplicity and is made up of mezcal, lemon juice, honey syrup, and Angostura bitters.
Here's another take on a mezcal sour that leverages the amazing flavor combination of mezcal and hibiscus! The only three ingredients you need to make it are mezcal, lime juice, and hibiscus simple syrup, which is made with water, sugar, and hibiscus flowers. My favorite part of the cocktail is its beautiful bright pink color -- it makes it so fun and festive for spring or summertime!
PS: If you haven't made a simple syrup at home, don't let it intimidate you! It takes literally 10 minutes or less, and can really take your cocktails to the next level.
Apple cider and mezcal are truly a match made in flavor heaven! The sweet, spicy cider complements the smokiness of the mezcal wonderfully, and makes for a unique and fun margarita for fall! Other ingredients include orange liqueur and lime juice. You can also rim the glass with a spice blend of cinnamon, sugar, and allspice and garnish with a few apple slices to make the presentation even more seasonal!
It shouldn't be a surprise that, like tequila, mezcal goes wonderfully with grapefruit! Most commonly, you see mezcal and grapefruit used in a riff on a Paloma, but this recipe presents a more unique take on a mezcal and grapefruit cocktail. Ingredients are mezcal, grapefruit juice, agave, and basil leaves. Together, these flavors make a tart, herbal, smoky, and balanced drink.
Mezcal in hot cocoa might sound a little strange, but it's SO good ya'll. Chocolate and mezcal both originally come from Mexico, and they are a fantastic flavor pairing. I recommend a darker chocolate that's at least 70% cacao, since its bitterness makes the brighter, fruiter flavors of the mezcal shine through. Perfect for the holidays, or whenever it's cold outside and you're craving a warm, cozy "adult" treat!
Coffee is another flavor that you might not expect to pair well with mezcal, but oh boy it does. The bitter, fruity notes of the coffee can bring out the sweeter flavors of the mezcal, so it's a fun pairing to try if you like coffee cocktails! Other than coffee and mezcal, you just need brown sugar simple syrup and whipped cream for topping to make this yummy pick-me-up.
This cocktail screams summer and looks absolutely gorgeous in a glass! The star ingredient is fresh passion fruit juice, which is tangy, tropical, and sweet. It balances out the smoky mezcal like a dream, and the only other ingredients you need are fresh lime juice and agave syrup. If passion fruit isn't in season or you're just feeling lazy, you can also just buy store-bought passion fruit juice in the juice or health food aisle.
I love a good pun, and beyond that, this drink sounds beyond delicious and refreshing! As you probably guessed, the main ingredient is kiwi juice, which isn't often used in cocktails but has the most refreshing, bright flavor. The other key ingredient other than mezcal is elderflower liqueur, which adds sweet, floral notes to the drink. Lime juice is the fourth and final ingredient that gives the cocktail a tart acidity. Another perfect summer and springtime sipper!
If you love a good blended tropical drink, this cocktail will be right up your alley! To make it, you blend pineapple chunks with mezcal, orange liqueur, and lime juice. It's another one that's great for those just getting into mezcal because the blended texture and sweet pineapple make the mezcal's smokiness more subtle. I've made this one at the beach a few times, and everyone always asks for the recipe, so you know it's good!
To say this cocktail surprised and impressed me would be an understatement. It's really one of those drinks you need to try to appreciate, and it's one of the more unique cocktails I've tried recently. Naturally, it has a really interesting line up of ingredients, including mezcal, Banane Du Brasil (banana liqueur), and Smith & Cross rum (or any aged Jamacian rum). It's funky from the Jamaican rum, sweet and fruity from the banana liqueur, and smoky from the mezcal. Try it and thank me later!
This take on a mezcal margarita is the perfect intersection of fruity, boozy, and smoky! It's made with equal parts tequila and mezcal, fresh mango, and lime juice. You puree the mango with the lime juice till it's nice and smooth, then simply add in the tequila and mezcal. It couldn't be easier to make, and is such a refreshing summertime drink!
I always get excited when I see blood orange as an ingredient, because it makes such beautifully colored cocktails! This one is no exception, and it's just as delicious as it is gorgeous. Ingredients are mezcal, blood orange juice, agave syrup, and tonic water. It's refreshing, citrusy, smoky, and has a touch of bitterness from the tonic water.
Here's a mezcal drink that's wonderful for Christmas and the holidays, and is so easy to whip up for a crowd. In the recipe, you make a rosemary simple syrup, which is combined with mezcal and pomegranate juice. The end result is an incredibly festive, fruity cocktail with a smoky, herbal complexity.
Finishing off our roundup, we have a cocktail for anyone who loves drinks with a spicy kick! It's made up of mezcal, lime juice, soda water, and jalapeño simple syrup, which is just equal parts sugar and water heated in a pan with a few jalapeño slices. It whips up in just a few minutes and is perfectly balanced between spicy, earthy, sweet, and smoky!