It’s hard to beat a margarita when the weather heats up. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing — even when it comes to margs (and guac).
In times of tequila overload — it happens to the best of us — we reach for mezcal, tequila’s smokier cousin.
Whether you’re a mezcal newbie or a connoisseur, these nine mezcal cocktails are a great way to cozy up to the booze.
1. Honey and smoke mezcal cocktail
Mezcal can taste pretty bitter on its own, which is why it’s great to pair it with something sweet, like honey. This recipe keeps things low-key with fewer than five ingredients — and delicious ones at that.
Simply mix a splash of mezcal with honey simple syrup (plain honey also works well!), ginger beer, fresh lime juice, and ice. Give it a little stir and you’re good to go.
2. The Oaxacan slushie
The secret to this cocktail’s vibrant color isn’t what you’d expect. No, it’s not from the fresh strawberries (though those certainly help!). Instead, it’s from beets.
Though not your average cocktail ingredient, beets add sweetness and creaminess and pair perfectly with the smokiness of mezcal and tartness from the berries and lime.
The best part: The recipe only requires one step (blend). And sip, of course.
3. Rosemary mezcal apple cider
While we love sipping mezcal in the summer, that certainly isn’t the only season to enjoy it. Take this mezcal cocktail, which includes one of our favorite fall flavors: apple cider.
Perfect for the days when it’s cool and crisp but you’re still craving drinks on ice, this cocktail is super simple and extra cozy.
Plus, the fresh rosemary sprig makes it look fancy — ideal for impressing at a dinner party.
4. Mezcal Negroni
If you’re feeling more adventurous, try this smoky Negroni.
It combines the smokiness of mezcal with the sweetness of the vermouth and bitterness of Campari.
It’s also super easy — you don’t even need a cocktail shaker for this one. Simply stir it up in a glass and serve.
5. Kombucha mezcal mule
A cocktail that’s hydrating, delicious, and lower in sugar? Totally possible.
Made with ginger kombucha, lime juice, mezcal, and ice, it’s another cocktail that can be whipped up in a no time. Just make sure you don’t drink it as fast. (Yup, it’s that delicious.)
Also, this is a perfect mocktail recipe if you want to reap all the probiotic gut benefits of kombucha — just skip the mezcal.
We love garnishing with mint for a little extra panache.
6. Watermelon-basil mezcal margarita
Making watermelon juice couldn’t be easier. Simply toss chunks of watermelon into a blender, whirl until smooth, pour over a cheesecloth, and voila.
That said, you can easily skip the straining and make a watermelon mezcal slushie instead. The only part we don’t suggest modifying: the watermelon skewers.
7. Smoky and spicy mezcal paloma
If margaritas are a little too tart for you, we highly recommend palomas. Made with sparkling water, fresh grapefruit juice, and a touch of sweetener, they’re refreshing and ideal for sensitive palates.
We love the chili lime salt rim that adds a little kick.
8. Cara cara mezcal sour
Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your mezcal. For something a little more unexpected, try this mezcal sour.
Made with cara cara orange juice (though any orange juice will do!), mezcal, lemon juice, agave, and egg white, it’s frothy, just the right amount of sweet, and a healthy touch of sour.
We also love using blood orange juice, which gives it an even richer color (and flavor).
9. Mezcal old fashioned
Old fashioneds aren’t just for whiskey fans. This recipe mixes mezcal with simple syrup (we love subbing honey) and bitters for a smokier twist on the whiskey classic.
Change things up further by twisting grapefruit peel and adding it to the bottom of the glass, but keep things traditional with one large ice cube.
The bottom line
If you’re ready to try a tequila alternative, mezcal is your road to smoky goodness.
Look for fun ingredients like honey and apple cider to give your mezcal cocktail recipes a personalized spin.