Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Smoky Limeade

smoky limeade cocktail in a rocks glass with ice and a rosemary sprig
Image: / Tim Nusog

Lemonade and limeade are summertime favorites, offering tart refreshment against the season’s heat. But these thirst-quenching drinks don’t need to be relegated to summer, says Chicago bartender Carmen Polcyn, who created the Smoky Limeade during her time at the now-closed Bar Toma.

The Smoky Limeade is a versatile drink that can be made with or without alcohol. If you’re choosing the boozy route, she suggests using either tequila or mezcal. If tequila’s your pick, use a blanco for its agave-forward flavors and notes of citrus and pepper. Unaged mezcal works best, too, and will lend your drink earthy notes with subtle smoke. Or skip the liquor entirely and enjoy a no-ABV mocktail that you can sip all day long.

In addition to the optional spirit, Polcyn’s choose-your-own-adventure drink features smoked citrus juice, which she creates by grilling sugar-coated lemons and limes over an open flame, plus simple syrup and either club soda or tonic water. Use the soda for a drier drink, or enlist the tonic for a little extra sweetness.

The Smoky Limeade is a fun take on the picnic favorite that brings more flavor to the party thanks to the charred citrus. Make it whenever the mood strikes, even if it’s in the dead of winter. The smoky, savory profile of this drink tastes great all year long.


  • 1 1/2 ounces tequila or mezcal (optional)

  • 1 ounce smoked citrus juice*

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • Club soda or tonic water, chilled, to top

  • Garnish: rosemary sprig


  1. Add the tequila or mezcal, if desired, smoked citrus juice and simple syrup into a rocks glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Top with the club soda or tonic water.

  3. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

*Smoked citrus juice: Cut 1 lemon and 1 lime in half and dip the open sides in turbinado sugar to coat. Grill each half over high heat, with the cut edge toward the flame, until the sugar has charred on the citrus. Once cooled, juice the fruit.