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"Make mine with Mezcal": 5 Easy Twists on Classic Cocktails

Mezcal is a gorgeously versatile, complex and expressive spirit that has been taking the bar scene by storm. Whilst delicious sipped neat, it can also be swapped in as the base spirit for many classic cocktails, giving them an exciting, new lease on life. Here are five of our favourite, easy-to-make mezcal twists on classic cocktail recipes.

A lot of mezcal purists insist that the only correct way to drink mezcal is neat, with a slice of lime or orange, and a sprinkling of worm salt – and this is indeed a great way to really experience all the subtleties of the flavour. However, mezcal-based cocktails can also be an absolute delight for the senses. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

1. Mezcal Margarita

Difficulty: ***
Strength: Sipper
Citrus, Umami, Spicy

As a rule, any cocktail with a tequila base works just as well with a mezcal base, but the smoky flavours of a mezcal can really do wonders for a margarita in particular. This mezcal update with coriander and jalapeño is fresh and grown-up, with a gorgeously complex palate.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 1)

60 ml mezcal
60 ml fresh lime juice
40 ml simple syrup, honey or agave syrup
Fresh coriander

Garnish – Jalapeño and (worm) salt

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  1. Purée a couple of tablespoons of fresh coriander in a blender with fresh squeezed lime juice and the simple syrup, honey or agave syrup. Once it’s completely smooth, skim off the foam and pour into a shaker
  2. Add the mezcal and a handful of ice cubes, and shake thoroughly
  3. Strain into a chilled margarita glass rimmed with (worm) salt and garnish with chopped jalapeño (optional)

2. Naked & Famous

Difficulty: **
Strength: Sipper
Smoky, Citrus, Bitter

This modern classic was invented in 2011, and has already been certified by the International Bartenders’ Association. A delicious mix of bittersweet smoky citrus flavours, it wakes up all your senses. You should be able to taste each individual flavour – the bitterness of the Aperol, the herby intensity of the chartreuse, the zingy citrus of the lime, and the glorious smoky smoothness of the mezcal – with every sip you take.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 1)

20 ml mezcal
20 ml yellow or green chartreuse
20 ml Aperol
20 ml fresh lime juice

Garnish – slice of lime

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  1. Pour equal parts (we recommend 20 ml of each) mezcal, yellow or green chartreuse, Aperol, and fresh lime juice over ice into a shaker
  2. Shake very very well, until the shaker is extremely cold, then strain into a chilled glass
  3. Garnish with a slice of lime

3. Mango Mezcal

Difficulty: **
Strength: Sipper
Sweet, Fruity, Exotic

This cocktail has a similar base to a margarita, but adds a burst of sweet fruit flavour for anyone craving a tropical taste. The intense strength of the mezcal is balanced by the soft sweetness of the mango, while the Cointreau and lime juice lighten and freshen the mix, countered by the zing of the black pepper. The overall effect is like sunshine in a glass.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 1)

30 ml mezcal
30 ml Cointreau or triple sec
40 ml fresh lime juice
60 ml mango juice
Freshly cracked black pepper

Garnish – pineapple chunk

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  1.  Pour the mezcal, Cointreau or triple sec, fresh lime juice and mango juice over ice in a shaker
  2. Grind in a couple of twists of black pepper, then shake well and strain into a chilled margarita glass
  3. Garnish with a chunk of pineapple

4. Mezcal Negroni

Difficulty: **
Strength: Boozy
Bittersweet, Smoky, Spicy

The classic Negroni gets a smoky boost when made with a mezcal base – and is incredibly simple to make. The sweet and bitter flavours meet the smoke of the mezcal in an incredibly satisfying combination.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 1)

20 ml mezcal
20 ml Campari
20 ml sweet vermouth

Garnish – wheel of orange

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  1. Pour the mezcal, Campari and vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice
  2. Stir everything together until it’s all nice and chilled
  3. Strain over a single ice cube into a lowball glass, and garnish with a slice of orange

5. Mezcal Mule

Difficulty: **
Strength: Easy Drinker
Fresh, Spicy, Zingy

The fresh, gingery flavours of a Moscow Mule are brought out sharply by the herby, crystalline smoothness of a mezcal base. For this particular cocktail, it’s a good idea to either choose a mezcal that isn’t overly smoky, or to use an agave blend of half mezcal, half tequila – otherwise the ginger could be overwhelmed.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 1)

60 ml mezcal (or 30 ml mezcal, 30 ml tequila)
40 ml fresh lime juice
100 ml ginger ale

Garnish – wedge of lime

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  1. Pour the mezcal (or half mezcal, half tequila), fresh squeezed lime juice, and ginger ale into a copper mug
  2. Add ice cubes and stir briefly to combine
  3. Garnish with a chunk of lime