Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Smoke Follows Beauty

Smoke Follows Beauty cocktail / Tim Nusog

The Spicy Margarita has become a perennial favorite, and fans of heat in their drinks might just find a new cocktail to love with this mezcal variation from Ricky Agustin, a veteran of New York City’s Pegu Club. Agustin, who now runs Seattle’s Mountaineering Club, based the Smoke Follows Beauty on the Poquito Picante, a cocktail invented by Artemio Vasquez at his old stomping grounds. Both drinks rely on a base of muddled cucumber and cilantro and both pack the heat. 

While the original Poquito leaned on lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin, Agustin’s version takes cues from the ubiquitous Spicy Margarita, employing lime juice and doubling up on agave with mezcal and agave syrup. 

One key variation is Agustin’s use of serrano peppers, which can be up to five times hotter than jalapeños, which are often used in the Spicy Marg. But serranos don’t necessarily make for a throat-scorching drink. Instead of muddling the peppers or infusing the base spirit, Agustin opts to infuse triple sec. The liqueur’s sugars encapsulate the capsaicin in the peppers, he says, tempering the heat. You can make the triple sec to your tastes—while Agustin’s sweet heat spot involves infusing the peppers for 90 minutes, yours might be different. You can also steep separate batches at varying lengths of time to tailor the ingredient for more heat-sensitive guests. 

The drink also has plenty of cooling elements to balance the spiciness, including muddled cucumber and cilantro. And a chilled jicama slice seasoned with sal de gusano, or worm salt, serves as Agustin’s “get-out-of-jail free” card—a bite will help cool any residual burn.


  • 3 slices cucumber

  • 2 stalks cilantro

  • 2 ounces Ilegal mezcal joven

  • 3/4 ounce serrano-infused triple sec (recipe below)

  • 3/4 ounce lime juice

  • 1/4 ounce agave syrup

  • Garnish: jicama slice, chilled and seasoned with sal de gusano


  1. In a shaker, muddle the cucumber and cilantro.

  2. Add the mezcal, infused triple sec, lime juice, agave syrup, and ice, and shake until well-chilled.

  3. Double-strain into a Nick & Nora glass.

  4. Garnish with a chilled slice of jicama seasoned with sal de gusano.

How to Make Serrano-Infused Triple Sec

Chop and freeze 100 grams of serrano peppers overnight in an inert container. When ready to infuse, pour in 1 liter of triple sec and allow to steep at room temperature. Taste every 20 minutes or so, stopping when the heat is where you want it. Agustin notes that his sweet spot is somewhere around 90 minutes.