Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

15 Cocktails to Make with Mezcal

The beloved Mexican spirit adds smoky, savory flavor to a range of drinks.

Mezcal Paloma in highball glass with Tajin salt rim and lime wedge, shot against tan background / Tim Nusog

Made by roasting agave hearts in underground pits, mezcal has been enjoyed in Mexico for centuries. Although it’s traditionally served neat, the complex and smoky spirit has become a bartender favorite for mixing into cocktails over the past couple decades. 

Though mezcal can legally be distilled from more than 40 varieties of agave, the angustifolia variety, commonly called espadín, comprises up to 90% of the market. Most pros recommend mezcal espadín for mixing, as it tends to have a more consistent flavor profile than mezcals made with other varieties. 

Whether swapped in for other base spirits in classics like the Last Word or mixed into new creations, mezcal adds its complex flavor profile to a wide range of cocktails. Here are 15 of our favorites.

  • Oaxaca Old Fashioned

    Oaxaca Old Fashioned / Tim Nusog

    Created by Phil Ward at New York City’s Death & Co in 2007, this drink was one of the first to put mezcal cocktails on the map in the U.S. The simple Old Fashioned riff combines a split base of reposado tequila and mezcal with agave nectar and Angostura bitters. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Mezcal Last Word

    Trato Hecho cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Mezcal replaces gin in this equal-parts combination alongside Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. It’s a simple swap that creates a dramatically different but equally delicious cocktail.

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  • Mezcal Negroni

    Vibrant red Mezcal Negroni in etched rocks glass on marble background, with orange garnish / Tim Nusog

    There are countless Negroni variations, and this one exchanges gin for mezcal alongside Campari and sweet vermouth. While it’s unknown who first mixed mezcal into a Negroni, the twist has become a modern classic since it started showing up on cocktail menus in the early 2000s.

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  • Tia Mia

    Tia Mia cocktail served in a rocks glass with crushed ice and a lime wheel and mint garnish / Tim Nusog

    Ivy Mix created this Mai Tai riff at Julie Reiner’s now-closed Hawaiian-themed restaurant and bar, Lani Kai, in New York City. It later found a home at Leyenda, an agave-focused cocktail bar in Brooklyn, New York that she co-owns with Reiner. While most Mai Tais rely on a blend of rums, Mix pairs a Jamaican rum with mezcal alongside traditional Mai Tai ingredients: orange curaçao, orgeat, and lime juice.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Mezcal Paloma

    Mezcal Paloma in highball glass with Tajin salt rim and lime wedge, shot against tan background / Tim Nusog

    Mezcal is a wider category of agave spirits that technically encompasses tequila, so the spirit is a natural fit for tequila cocktails like the Paloma. Its smoky notes shine when paired with the classic’s lime juice and grapefruit soda. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Naked & Famous

    Naked and Famous cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Bar pro Joaquín Simó has called this modern classic that he developed at New York City’s Death & Co a cross between a Last Word and a Paper Plane. The bittersweet, herbaceous drink combines equal parts mezcal, Aperol, Yellow Chartreuse, and lime juice.

    Get the recipe.

  • Mezcal Mule

    Mezcal Mule cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Sure, you can mix mezcal with lime juice and ginger beer to make a Mezcal Mule. But this tropical variation from bar legend Jim Meehan—which adds muddled cucumber and passion fruit puree to the classic template—is an arguably even more refreshing twist.

    Get the recipe.

  • Smoke Show

    Smoke Show mezcal cocktail with foam on top, served in ornate gold-trimmed coupe glass and garnished with cinnamon / Tim Nusog

    This herbaceous sour from Liz Martinez of The Purple Pig in Chicago combines mezcal with Cynar, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, simple syrup, and an egg white. A grated cinnamon garnish adds extra aromatics. 

    Get the recipe.

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  • Division Bell

    Division Bell cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This drink that Ward created at New York City’s now-closed Mayahuel is a Last Word riff with mezcal, Aperol, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. Though it doesn’t have the equal-parts formula of the drink that inspired it, the modern classic is worth committing to memory.

    Get the recipe.

  • Polar Bear

    Polar Bear cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Although this combination of mezcal, blanc vermouth, creme de menthe, and a homemade angelica tincture from San Francisco bar The Trick Dog may strike some as unusual, it was inspired by a lesser-known pre-Prohibition classic, the Stinger. Celery bitters make a fine substitute for the tincture if you want to simplify the drink’s preparation.

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  • Ready Fire Aim

    Ready Fire Aim cocktail with foam, served in coupe glass and garnished with peppercorns, shot against marble background / Tim Nusog

    This fruity and peppery sour from bar pro Steve Schneider mixes mezcal with a honey-pineapple syrup, pineapple and lime juices, and Hella Bitters smoked chile cocktail bitters. A pink peppercorn garnish plays off the drink’s spice notes.

    Get the recipe.

  • Smoke Follows Beauty

    Smoke Follows Beauty mezcal cocktail garnished with jicama slice and served in nick and nora glass / Tim Nusog

    This savory-leaning Spicy Margarita variation from bartender Ricky Agustin combines mezcal with a serrano-infused triple sec, lime juice, and agave syrup. Muddled cucumber and cilantro and a jicama garnish help to balance the spice.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Loaded Pistol

    Loaded Pistol mezcal cocktail, served in rocks glass, getting garnished with grasshopper salt while light streams into shot
    Arlene Ibarra

    While agave spirits shine in sour-style cocktails, they can also show surprising versatility in stirred drinks. This spirit-forward recipe from San Diego bartender Erick Castro combines mezcal with sweet vermouth, the Italian liqueur Strega, and a dash of grapefruit bitters.

    Get the recipe.

  • Haitian Divorce

    Haitian Divorce cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This Old Fashioned riff from drinks pro Tom Richter marries an aged Haitian rum with mezcal, pedro ximenez sherry, and Angostura bitters. The combination of rum and mezcal evokes the flavor of Scotch whisky, according to Richter.

    Get the recipe.

  • Dead Sea Mule

    Red Dead Sea Mule cocktail garnished with candied ginger and mint sprig, served in highball glass and shot against marble background / Tim Nusog

    A homemade pomegranate grenadine elevates this fruity twist on the Mezcal Mule from bartender Michael Nemcik. It also evokes the flavors of the Levant—the region in the Middle East that includes Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria—which inspired the drink’s name. 

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