Spirits & Liqueurs Tequila & Mezcal

The Best Mezcal at Any Price

(photo illustration: Laura Sant).

You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.

Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state. And we have included a sotol.

  • Alipús San Andrés ($50)

    “It has quality in the balance of minerality, smokiness and velvety texture: macadamia, lilac, grilled pineapple, tart lime, slate and black peppercorn. Not to mention Alipus participates in social activism, empowering the rural economy.”—Karen Fu, bar manager at New York City's Studio at Freehand hotel and Happy Cooking Hospitality

  • Bozal Espadín ($50)

    “It’s piny, smoky beyond belief, mentholated and balanced—a gift for anyone who already enjoys the category or is ready to.”—Nathaniel David Smith, bartender at St. Paul, Minn.'s Hodges Bend and ambassador for Teeling Irish whiskey

  • Del Maguey Vida ($39)

    “When people ask for a mezcal, either for sipping, shots, or cocktails, they probably mean this standard - and for good reason. Smoky, balanced, and affordable.”—Smith

  • Fidencio Pechuga ($88)

    “I love the softness and creaminess and love to pair this with Provence rosé.”—Jose Medina Camacho, Jose Medina Camacho, bar manager at Birmingham, Ala.'s Marble Ring

    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • Ilegal Joven ($50)

    “I’ve loved this one for quite a while. There are some deep agave aromas—very earthy and green with delicious white peppercorn notes. This mezcal works amazingly in cocktails, and it’s also amazing to be sipped on its own. Salud!”—Mcson Salicetti, CEO and co-founder of New York City's Salicetti Cubed Consulting

  • Koch Espadín ($45)

    “This espadín has lots of agave on the nose for being 80 proof. It really stands up in cocktails, both shaken and stirred.”—Shannon Ponche, head bartender at New York City's Leyenda

  • Montelobos ($50)

    “The smooth and smoky characteristics make it a perfect single bottle in the well.”—Lucinda Sterling, managing partner and bartender at New York City's Middle Branch

  • Nuestra Soledad San Luis del Rio ($45)

    “The Nuestra Soledad line showcases how terroir affects the flavor of the finished product. It’s all espadín mezcals but all grown in different areas. Each expression of Nuestra Soledad is wonderful.”—Cari Hah, bar manager at Los Angeles' Big Bar

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • Pierde Almas Dobadaan ($81)

    “It’s a powerhouse, savory mezcal with a long finish. Try it neat with food.”—Franky Marshall, bartender and beverage director at New York City's Le Boudoir

  • Por Siempre (Sotol, $40)

    “It’s not a mezcal but such a cool product. It has an earthy root vegetable flavor and smell and subs well for cocktails that call for mezcal or a Tommy’s Margarita with carrot juice.”—Ponche

  • Real Minero Espadín ($120)

    “Graciela Carreno is making some of the finest mezcal today. Her efforts with her agave nursery are also redefining the cultivation of agave in that part of the world.”—Nick Detrich, co-owner and bartender at New Orleans' Manolito

  • Rey Campero Espadín ($53)

    “There’s too much to say about this one and its producer. It just doesn't get any better than what these guys are doing. Supporting sustainability of agave, traditional methods, family-owned—the Sanchez family does it all! This mezcal is no exception, one of the best values out there, period. Sure to please the seasoned mezcal or nerd or newcomer to this amazing spirit.”—Jordan Joseph, bar manager at Raleigh, N.C.'s Centro and Gallo Pelón

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • Sombra ($35)

    “I love everything that it’s doing. It’s an entirely new and sustainable palenque, and I love the juice. It’s tough to go wrong with this one.”—Brett Esler, barman at Austin's Whisler's

  • Vago Elote ($60)

    “Roasted sweet corn imbues this unique espadín throughout, uncovering softer, pleasant notes of papaya, mint, honey and cinnamon—simply sublime!”—Fu