12 Innovative Mezcal Cocktails And Its History

12 Innovative Mezcal Cocktails And Its History

Mezcal — the smoky agave spirit — seems like a recent phenomenon, but the history of mezcal is much longer than the recent influx of mezcal cocktail recipes. It originated over 500 years ago, and it’s still produced using traditional methods.

Although it’s known for its smoky profile, a good mezcal will be balanced — a welcome ingredient for smoky cocktail lovers and home bartenders. When experimenting, make sure to look for quality. Paying a bit more will make all the difference in your cocktails.

The History of Mezcal

Born 500 years ago, when the Spanish conquerors first arrived in Mexico, mezcal has the honor of being the first distilled spirit in the Americas. 

To produce mezcal, mature agave plants are harvested by removing their piñas with a machete and cooking them in pit ovens for roughly three days. Once the piñas have finished cooking, they are crushed and fermented in large barrels with water. The resulting fermented liquid is then distilled twice in copper pots to increase the alcohol content. 

All these years later, the spirit is still produced using the same traditional method. In fact, to be considered a true mezcal, it must be made this way and produced in one of the following regions in Mexico: Durango, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, or Zacatecas.

Different Types of Mezcal

Like many other spirits, the characteristics of mezcal vary depending on the type and price range. However, mezcal is unique in that the change in flavor is caused by the specific type of agave used to make it. Mezcal can be produced with 11 variations of agave grown in Oaxaca. 

There are three types of mezcal, each determined by the aging process. 

  • Joven (“young”) – Bottled immediately after distillation
  • Reposado (“rested”) – Aged in wooden barrels for two to nine months
  • Añejo (“aged”) – Aged in wooden barrels for a minimum of 12 months

There’s a mezcal cocktail for every palate. Some are smokier than others. Some highlight citrus, others spice. You’re sure to find a recipe you like. Explore our complete collection of mezcal cocktails for more.

1. Spicy Negroni

Spicy Negroni Cocktail
Photo by @Ryzhkov

The Negroni riff is smoky, spicy, and flavorful. Made with mezcal, Campari, sweet vermouth, ancho chile liqueur, and habanero flavored bitters, it’s a smoky cocktail you’ll love drinking year-round, especially in the summer. 

Get the recipe

2. Fumata Bianca

Fumata Bianca Cocktail
Photo by @Rebeccafondren

The perfectly balanced Fumata Bianca cocktail drinks more like a smoky aperitivo. It’s a refreshing break from the mezcal cocktail tradition, made with herbally bitter Suze, the sweeter bianco vermouth, mezcal, and club soda. 

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3. Smoke Show

Smoke Show Cocktail
Photo by @bhofack2

The tart Smoke Show cocktail is bold and silky tasting. With mezcal, Cynar, green Chartreuse, lime juice, and simple syrup, the strong flavors blend together for an unforgettable experience.

Get the recipe

4. Oaxacan Tail

Oaxacan Tail Cocktail
Photo by @Malik Sheikh

The smoky cocktail is coffee-based, making it a great addition to a brunch menu. With Foro Amaro, mezcal, blanco tequila, cold-brew coffee, and chocolate mole bitters, the drink is strong and smooth. The optional dash of cream lets you stay in control of the flavor intensity.

Get the recipe

5. Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes Cocktail
Photo by @Chettarin

You’ll be instantly transported to the beach after tasting Snake Eyes. With mezcal, coconut water, lime juice, cane syrup, and banana liqueur, it’s inspired by a Caribbean classic but dials up the tropical flavors. 

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6. Illegal Cocktail

Illegal Cocktail
Photo by @Bhofack2

This mezcal-based cocktail is complex, smoky, and citrus – like an elevated Hemingway Daiquiri. With mezcal, white rum, falernum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice, and simple syrup, it’s a boozy drink you’ll want to add to your repertoire. 

Get the recipe

7. Naked and Famous

Naked And Famous Mezcal Yellow Chartreuse Aperol And Lime Juice Cocktail
Photo by @bhofack2

The Naked and Famous is an iconic mezcal cocktail with equal parts mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Aperol, and fresh lime juice. It’s a perfectly balanced sipper with smoky, sweet, bitter, and refreshing citrus flavors. This modern classic is great for enjoying during happy hour or dinner parties and guarantees to impress from the first sip. 

Get the recipe

8. Mexican Tricycle

Mexican Tricycle Cocktail With Mezcal Cynar Amaro And Cider
Photo by @sutteerug

The Mexican Tricycle is made with mezcal, Cynar, and hard apple cider for a delightfully refreshing low-proof cocktail. Notes of lime, apple, deep smoke, and bitter herbs blend in a symphony of flavor. You can alter the mezcal cocktail by opting for a sweeter or drier cider.

Get the recipe

9. Ultima Palabra

Ultima Palabra Cocktail With Mezcal Green Chartreuse Maraschino Liqueur And Lime Juice
Photo by @mllebasinet

Ultima Palabra is Spanish for “Last Word” and is a playful mezcal twist on the classic cocktail. Made with equal parts mezcal, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice, this well-balanced cocktail is refreshingly tart and sweet with notes of smoke and bitterness to round it out. If you’re trying mezcal for the first time, the Ultima Palabra makes a fantastic introduction. 

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10. Oaxaca Old Fashioned

Oaxaca Old Fashioned
Photo by @Bhofack2

For lovers of the classic Old Fashioned, the Oaxaca Old Fashioned is a must-try. This smoky sipper is Oaxaca’s ode to the agave plant and comprises three agave elements: smooth reposado tequila, smoky mezcal, and sweet agave syrup. The result is a beautifully balanced mezcal cocktail.

Get the recipe

11. Division Bell

Division Bell Cocktail With Mezcal Aperol Amaro Maraschino Liqueur And Lime Juice
Photo by @nananafuzimi

Inspired by the Last Word cocktail, the Division Bell is a refreshing drink that combines smoky, bitter, and sweet into one harmonious glass. This fan favorite is made with mezcal, Aperol, maraschino liqueur, and fresh lime juice.

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12. Mezcal Negroni

Mezcal Negroni Cocktail With Mezcal Campari Amaro And Sweet Vermouth
Photo by @allanbenjaminfrancis

There’s a reason the Mezcal Negroni has inspired so many new mezcal drinks. The Mezcal Negroni swaps gin for the smoky agave-based spirit for a delectable twist on a classic drink that’s easy to prepare at home. Simply combine mezcal, Campari, and sweet vermouth for a smoky, well-rounded cocktail.

Get the recipe

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