12 Mezcal Cocktails to Get You in the Mood for Summer

Mezcal Margarita
Photo: Victor Protasio

With warm weather on the way, it's time to crack out the warm-weather cocktails that inspire memories of beach vacations and good times with friends. These mezcal cocktails play on the vast range of flavors that the spirit offers, with something for literally everyone, so grab your favorite bottle and start experimenting. From a Smoky Mezcal-Fig Sour to a reinvented version of the classic Margarita and a super-chill Watermelon-Cucumber Cooler, read on for more fantastic mezcal cocktails that bring out the best made with the smoky, agave-based spirit.

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Tia Mia

Tia Mia
© David Malosh

Ivy Mix, co-owner of Leyenda in Brooklyn, riffs on a mai tai with smoky mezcal. The name of the drink (an anagram of "mai tai") pays homage to a friend to whom she used to serve drinks in Guatemala.

02 of 12

Tide Is High

Tide Is High
© David Malosh

New York City tiki specialist Jane Danger mixes up this tequila-and-mezcal pina colada variation. Instead of coconut cream, she swaps in homemade cashew cream for a toasty, savory flavor. Alternatively, use store-bought cashew milk, preferably pressed from a juice bar.

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Smoky Mezcal-Fig Sour

Smoky Mezcal-Fig Sour Recipe
Victor Protasio

This cocktail from 2021 F&W Game Changer Ashtin Berry rounds out smoky mezcal with spicy-sweet fig-ginger syrup and bright lemon juice. Mezcal is still the dominant flavor in this barely sweet drink that lets the liquor shine.

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The Palomaesque Cocktail

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The Paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail made with lime juice, tequila and grapefruit soda. Scott Baird, the mixologist who created this drink for Comal in Berkeley, makes his version with smoky mezcal, fresh grapefruit juice and Cocchi Americano, the sweet Italian aperitif wine.

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Ginger's Lost Island

Ginger's Lost Island
Tina Rupp

Bryan Dayton's mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger liqueur, and smoky mezcal pairs well with many dishes with respect to sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter flavor profiles of many cuisines.

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Cucumber, Salt & Smoke

Mezcal Cocktail: Cucumber, Salt & Smoke

Mezcal, made from fire-roasted agave, provides the smokiness in this unusual Pisco Sour update. The cucumber is fresh and herbaceous, and even though the cocktail contains simple syrup, a pinch of salt makes it more dry than sweet. While the shaken egg white adds a dramatic foamy head, the drink is equally delicious without an egg white.

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Tamarind-Mezcal Sour

Tamarind Mezcal Sour Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Smoky mezcal and savory bitters are rounded out by sweet-tart lemon juice and tamarind puree in this punchy cocktail. Add pineapple fronds, edible flowers, sliced star fruit, and orange peel, for a tropical-themed garnish.

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Mezcal Negroni

Mezcal Negroni
Victor Protasio

This riff on the classic gin and Campari cocktail has an earthy richness courtesy of smoky mezcal. Carpano Antica Formula vermouth is full-bodied and flavored with herbs and spices, lending dry, barely sweet flavor to this Negroni. Cocchi Americano and a generous citrus garnish bring a light, citrusy bite.

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Mezcal Margarita

Mezcal Margarita
Victor Protasio

Smoky mezcal brings depth to a classic margarita. A combination of slightly sweeter Combier and mildly bitter Cointreau balances the floral orange notes in the drink. Double the Cointreau if Combier is unavailable.

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Watermelon-Cucumber Cooler

Watermelon Cucumber Cooler
Victor Protasio

Sweet watermelon juice complements the clean, refreshing notes in mezcal. If you can't find store-bought watermelon juice, blend chunks of fresh watermelon and strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

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Wicked Games

Wicked Games
© Lucas Allen

This pineapple-and-ginger-flavored cocktail—inspired by a modern Vietnamese meal—contains pear brandy and mezcal for a kick of flavor.

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Maguey Sour

Maguey Sour
© Tina Rupp

Maguey is another name for agave. Roasting the heart of the plant in an earthen pit (as opposed to steaming or baking it, which is done for tequila) is what gives Mezcal its smoky flavor.

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